Royal Burgh of Kinghorn - for residents and visitors alike

From Celtic origins and invasions.....

The history of Kinghorn can be traced back to the 6th Century AD, when Kinghorn harbour was used for the export of leather and animal skins.  Also in that century, one of the monks who came over with St Columnba in 563 established a Celtic monastery in Kinghorn.  This gave rise to a church being built in the 7th Century.


A magnificent new Church was built in 1243, thanks to wealthy merchants and Royal patronage - so beautiful that Pope Nicholas IV made it a pilgrimage site.  Kinghorn was already on the Pilgrims’ Route as a ferry port for pilgrims between England and St. Andrews.  In 1290 the Pope named St Leonard as the Patron Saint of Kinghorn.  The Knights Templar set up a hospice in Kinghorn.  The Bishop of St Andrews built a palace and hospice in Abden (i.e. lands belonging to the Celtic Monastery).


In 1301, the Rector of All Saints Church, Baldred Bisset, was elected by the Scottish nobles to draw up and present a petition to the Pope.  King Edward of England was sending a party of bishops and clerics so that Edward could “annexe” Scotland as part of his Kingdom.  Baldred Bisset pleaded that Scotland was a sovereign independent nation under God.  Baldred Bisset won and his arguments were used later when the Declaration of Arbroath was sent to the Pope in 1320.


Baldred Bisset was replaced when King Edward controlled Scotland and it seems likely that the Pope responded by withdrawing Kinghorn’s Pilgrimage status.  Part of the 1243 church can still be seen at the rear of the present church.


Kinghorn became one of the first Scottish Royal Burghs during the reign of King William the Lion.  Kinghorn Castle was a favourite residence of the Kings of Scotland, judging from the numbers of charters signed by the Kings “at Kinghorn”.  King Alexander III died in 1286, a mile from his castle at Kinghorn, thereby ending the Celtic royal line and one of Scotland’s “Golden Ages”.


One noble family worth in mentioning Lyon family.  Sir John Lyon was created Thane of Glamis and given the Royal castle of Glamis in Kinghorn in 1373, when he married the daughter of King Robert II.  Lord Lyon was created Earl of Kinghorne in 1606.  Patrick, third Earl of Kinghorne, was created Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1677.


Kinghorn’s strategic position on the Firth of Forth has been its blessing and its curse. The earliest known invasion of Kinghorn was in 1055, when the brother of the King of Denmark arrived with “9,000” men.  He was eventually beaten by an army led by Macbeth and Banquo.  The Danes paid Macbeth and Banquo “10,000” gold pieces for the right to bury their noble dead on Inchcolm.


In 1332, Edwards Balliol, son of the disgraced King, John Balliol, came ashore at Kinghorn (and burnt it to the ground) on his was to be crowned at Scone.  In 1355, King Edward III of England landed at Kinghorn (and burnt it to the ground) to wrest the Crown of Scotland.  In 1547, the Earl of Somerset landed at Kinghorn (and burnt it to the ground) after the Scottish army had been routed at the Battle Pinkie, across the Forth.  The English army rampaged and looted through Fife, to be picked up with their booty by the English fleet at Lindores Priory in the north of Fife.


Kinghorn’s position on the Firth of Forth has had a major influence on its industries. Fishing, exports and imports - especially during its Royal Burgh privileges, the ferry trade with Edinburgh, ship building, salt production and linen manufacture.

Thanks to Allison for the article.

Contact through the Secretary.

...as at 11th January 2012