Scroll left and right below to travel the historical timeline

  • Viking Invasion

    Viking Invasion

    During the 9th Century Viking pirates from Norway and Denmark invaded religious settlements all round the coast of Scotland, including Fife. In 875AD it was recorded that they plundered the monastery on the Isle of May, murdering St Ethernan and his monks.

  • Countess Ada de Warenne

    Countess Ada de Warenne

    In 1177 the Lands of Kilrenny were gifted to the monks of the Dryburgh Abbey by Countess Ada de Warenne, the Scottish princess and mother of King Malcom lV and William the Lion, King of Scots.

    Image: King Malcolm IV of Scotland

  • Tiends to the Church

    Tiends to the Church

    During the 1200s the Abbot of Dryburgh continued to assert his right to a portion of the revenue from the fish landed by the Kilrenny fishermen.

    Image: Seal of Abbot of Dryburgh

  • Consecration of Kilrenny Church

    Consecration of Kilrenny Church

    Kilrenny Church was dedicated to St Ethernan by David de Berham, Bishop of St Andrews, previously Chamberlain to King Alexander lll. The saint would also be attributed the names of St Adrian and St Irnie in later centuries.

  • Transfer from the Crown

    Transfer from the Crown

    Kilrenny had returned to the Crown by the reign of James lll (1468-1488) and the lands were conferred upon the family of Béthune of Balfour, French nobility who had settled in Fife.

    Image: King James III

  • Teinds for Church and Harbour

    Teinds for Church and Harbour

    John Lauder, the Vicar of Kilrenny, drafted a charter to furnish Kilrenny with taxes from the fish caught by local fishermen. In return, the church agreed to fund repair and upkeep of the new harbour of Skynfasthaven for the fishermen.

    Image: 13th Century Tower of Kilrenny Church

  • New Ownership

    New Ownership

    Kilrenny eventually passed to Cardinal David Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews. In 1546 he was stabbed to death by some Protestant Lairds in St Andrews Castle. Later, his nephew, John Beaton ordered that the
    harbour of Skinfasthaven be built.

    Image: Cardinal David Beaton

  • Burgh of Regality

    Burgh of Regality

    Patrick Adamson, Archbishop of St Andrews, granted a charter to John Beaton of Balfour, conferring upon him the new seaport of Skinfasthaven and erecting the town of Kilrenny to a Burgh of Regality. This meant the Burgh had the power to buy and sell goods, to erect a Mercat cross and hold a weekly Sabbath Fair.

    Image: Patrick Adamson

  • Heirs and Successors

    Heirs and Successors

    John Beaton’s son was confirmed as the hereditary tenant of the ‘port and heavyne callit the Skynfast Heyvn’. The charter was confirmed by
    James Vl in 1579. Kilrenny now consisted of the rural village of Upper Kilrenny, and the fishing town of Nether (lower) Kilrenny, including the
    port of Skinfasthaven.

  • El Gran Grifón

    El Gran Grifón

    James Melville was appointed Minister of Kilrenny. He was instrumental in the rescue of and eventual release of the crew of El Gran Grifón, the Spanish Armada ship. The vessel came into Anstruther harbour months after their defeat by Queen Elizabeth’s fleet. It had 227 men on board.

    Image: El Gran Grifón

  • Royal Burgh by Accident

    Royal Burgh by Accident

    Kilrenny was accidentally enrolled by the Convention of Royal Burghs. This permitted representation by a commissioner at the Scottish Parliament in 1612. The ensuing Kilrenny Town Councils considered the Burgh to have the status similar to the other 36 Scottish Royal Burghs.

    Image: Convention of Royal Burghs Records

  • Civil War

    Civil War

    In the 1650s, units of Cromwell’s army occupied and ransacked Cellardyke
    and Anstruther as the men of both towns had supported the Royalist cause
    at the Battle of Kilsyth. Eventually, Kilrenny was one of the thirteen Fife
    Burghs to have a representative in Cromwell’s Parliament.

    Image: Oliver Cromwell

  • Royal Burgh Renounced

    Royal Burgh Renounced

    After many years of poverty, the Town Council asked to be removed from the Roll of the Royal Burghs along with the financial commitments attached. The Burgh was deleted from the Roll byAct of Parliament.

  • United Kingdom Parliament

    United Kingdom Parliament

    The Burgh was grouped with the four neighbouring Royal Burghs of the East
    Neuk of Fife (Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester, Pittenweem and Crail) to send representation of Scotland in the new British Parliament.

    Image: East Neuk Burgh crests

  • Burgh Disenfranchised

    Burgh Disenfranchised

    Irregularities in local politics and with politicians resulted in the Burgh being disenfranchised. Its affairs were taken over and run by managers appointed by the Court of Session, the Supreme Court of Scotland. This situation lasted for forty years.

    Image: Court of Session, Edinburgh

  • Cholera Epidemic

    Cholera Epidemic

    Cholera hit the town and dozens died in both epidemics bringing further
    privation and destitution to the town.

    Image: Shore Street

  • Gold Rush

    Gold Rush

    Having experienced poverty and disease many fishermen and their families chose to emigrate to Australia, Canada and other parts of the world. After gold was discovered in Australia in 1851 many fishermen sailed to the far
    reaches of the Empire to seek their fortune.

  • Herring Return

    Herring had returned to the East coast of Scotland. With a great fleet of sea-going boats,fishermen famed for their skill and a magnificent harbour, Cellardyke was placed among the top fishing towns in the country. By 1881 the population had risen to 2730. However, as fishing boats increased in size, skippers moved their boats to the much larger Anstruther Harbour.

    Image: Skinfasthaven 1865

  • Uniting the Burghs

    The Royal Burghs of Anstruther Easter, Anstruther Wester and Kilrenny were
    amalgamated to create the United Burghs of Kilrenny, Anstruther Easter and
    Anstruther Wester.

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