BURNTISLAND, anciently known as Wester Kinghorn, is a royal burgh and sea-port in the Kirkcaldy district of Fifeshire, nearly opposite to Leith. The town is finely situated on a peninsula of the frith of Forth, surrounded on the north by hills in the form of an amphitheatre, which afford an excellent shelter to the harbour. It consists of two streets running parallel to each other, and terminated by the harbour on the west, besides some lanes. On the east are the links, and some handsome cottages for sea-bathers. The principal street is broad and spacious, and contains a number of respectable buildings. Burntisland was fortified during the reign of Charles I., and part of the wall and east port still remain. At the west end of the town, surrounded by plantations, and overlooking the harbour, is Rossend Castle, built by the Duries of that ilk in the fifteenth century. From the chartulary of Dunfermline, it appears that, in 1538, George Durie, commendator of Dunfermline, granted to Robert Durie of that ilk, the lands of Nether Grange of Kinghorn-Wester, called Le Mains; together with the keeping of the fort or place of the same. Since that period the castle must either have been built or much re-edified by the family of Durie. After the Reformation, Kirkaldy of Grange obtained a grant of the castle; and, in 1591, Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie, afterwards first Lord Melville, obtained a grant of the barony of Burntisland with the castle, and with his successors, ancestors of the Earls of Leven and Melville, it for a considerable time continued. Since being sold by them, Rossend has passed through many different proprietors. In modern times considerable additions have been made to it; and it is surrounded by plantations and garden ground. In the view of Burntisland, given in our engraving, it forms a conspicuous object in the centre of the picture; the harbour occupying the foreground, and a portion of the town being seen at the right side.
The town of Bertiland or Bryntiland belonged anciently to the abbey of Dunfermline, and was exchanged by James V., in 1541, for some lands in the neighbourhood, that he might erect it into a royal burgh. The General Assembly met at Burntisland in 1601, when James VI. attended and retook the solemn oath and covenant. In 1715, the Earl of Mar’s forces occupied this town. In 1746, a large body of Hessians were encamped here.
Burntisland gave the title – now extinct – of Baron to the family of Wemyss.