[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
BUCKHAVEN, a fishing-village in the parish of Wemyss, in Fife; 2 miles south-west of Leven, and 5½ north-east of Dysart. It consists of a groupe of cottages, apparently scattered at random over a steep ascent from the shore, and thickly interspersed with boats, oars, nets, anchors, dungsteads, and the other accompaniments of a fishing-village. With the exception of a few weavers, the inhabitants are all engaged in catching or retailing fish, and are proverbially industrious and expert at their calling. They have not a few peculiar traits of character and appearance, and it is said that they are descended from the crew of a Brabant vessel which was wrecked on this coast in the reign of Philip II. Defoe describes Buckhaven as “inhabited by fishermen, who are employed wholly in catching fresh fish every day in the firth, and carrying them to Leith and Edinburgh markets. The buildings are but a miserable row of cottages; yet there is scarce a poor man in it; but they are in general so very clownish, that to be of the college of Buckhaven, is become a proverb. Here we saw the shore of the sea covered with shrimps like a thin snow; and as you rode among them, they would rise like a kind of dust, and hop like grasshoppers, being scared by the footing of the horse. The fishermen of this town have a great many boats of all sizes, which lie upon the beach unrigged, ready to be fitted out every year for the herring-season, in which they have a very great share.” The value of the boats and nets, presently belonging to this industrious colony, is supposed to exceed £20,000. – A United Secession congregation has been in existence here for half-a-century. The church accommodates 600, and is usually well-attended by the fishermen, excepting about seven weeks in July and August during the herring-fishery. Salary £110, with a manse and garden. A new pier and harbour has recently been formed here under the auspices of the Board of Fisheries.