1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Burntisland

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BURNTISLAND, a royal, municipal and police burgh of Fife, Scotland, on the shore of the Firth of Forth, 53/4 m. S.W. of Kirkcaldy by the North British railway. Pop. (1891) 4993; (1901) 4846. It is protected from the north wind by the Binn (632 ft.), and in consequence of its excellent situation, its links and sandy beach, it enjoys considerable repute as a summer resort. The chief industries are distilling, fisheries, shipbuilding and shipping, especially the export of coal and iron. Until the opening of the Forth bridge, its commodious harbour was the northern station of the ferry across the firth from Granton, 5 m. south. The parish church, dating from 1594, is a plain structure, with a squat tower rising in two tiers from the centre of the roof. The public buildings include two hospitals, a town-hall, music hall, library and reading room and science institute. On the rocks forming the western end of the harbour stands Rossend Castle, where the amorous French poet Chastelard repeated the insult to Queen Mary which led to his execution. In 1667 it was ineffectually bombarded by the Dutch. The burgh was originally called Parva Kinghorn and later Wester Kinghorn. The origin and meaning of the present name of the town have always been a matter of conjecture. There seems reason to believe that it refers to the time when the site, or a portion of it, formed an island, as sea-sand is the subsoil even of the oldest quarters. Another derivation is from Gaelic words meaning “the island beyond the bend.” With Dysart, Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy, it unites in returning one member to parliament.