North Berwick East Lothian
North Berwick Law, Law being an ancient word for rounded hill. North Berwick Law is a Volcanic plug over 300 million years old as the Castle rock is in Edinburgh. The first evidence of buildings on the Law is a Iron Age Hill Fort and further buildings date from the mid 1500s, 1800s and 1900s The first whale bones were erected on the North Berwick Law in 1709. Berwick Law due to its position on the east coast can be seen for 10s of miles, a good place to see it from is the Calton Hill in Edinburgh which shows how it was a important lookout for ships that were looking to invade Edinburgh. The hill is only just over 600 feet to the top 187 meters. The summit stone reads “live for the moment
North Berwick East Lothian is 28 miles (45 klms) from Edinburgh a 45 minute drive or a 30 minute train ride.
Once a small fishing village that has grown into a small town by the sea, with golden sand beaches, golf courses,
great walks and historic places to visit. This was the holiday destination of Robert Louis Stevenson as his grandfather owned a house 'Anchor Villa' No.10 West Bay Road. It was demolished and replaced by another house.
St Andrew’s Auld Kirk
St Andrew’s Kirk was a major site in the 12th century as pilgrims from all over Britain would visit this church prior to continuing their journey to St Andrews the home of Christianity in Scotland. The first Church on this site was circa 750 BC.
It is thought that in the 12th century the Kirk was built by the Earl of Fife who owned the coastal lands around North Berwick as well as a castle that overlooked the East Bay.
The Kirk at the harbour was abandoned in 1652 after a great storm and below is the porch which is all that remains.
It is said that a ferry that took pilgrims over the water landed at Earlsferry in Fife as the Queens ferry would travel across the water to the areas called Queensferry on the other side of Edinburgh.
The pilgrims believed that all their sins would be forgiven and any illnesses healed if the prayed in-front of St Andrew’s bones.
Circa 1590 it is said that 200 witches danced around Anchor Green while listening to the Devil preach from the pulpit.
The witches were trying to summoned a store to sink the ships of James VI. A servant girl, Gelie Duncan
was tortured until she confessed to the happenings. Gelie Duncan and many others were burned at the stake in Edinburgh for their part in the ritual. The old St Andrews burial ground is where the present seabird centre stands now.
When the old burial ground which lay where the Seabird centre stands now was excavated,
coffins were found dating back over 300 years.
The red granite cross in front of the Seabird Centre is a memorial to Catherine Watson. The inscription reads: “Erected in memory of Catherine Watson of Glasgow, aged 19 who drowned in the East Bay, 27th July 1889 while rescuing a drowning boy. The child was saved, the brave girl was taken” It was created by her fellow art students.
Following a drowning accident in 1889 Sir Walter Hamilton-Dalrymple initiated a subscription for a memorial cross to be erected on Anchor Green. The Red Granite Celtic Cross, with the inscription
‘ Erected in memory of Catherine Watson of Glasgow, aged 19 who drowned in the East Bay, 27th July 1889 while rescuing a drowning boy. The child was saved, the brave girl was taken.’
The memorial was designed by S. McGlashen in 1890.
RNLI & Air Force
Two memorials to the long service of the people that watch out for all in distress at see The RNLI lifeboat Crews and the pilots of the Royal Air Force Coastal Command North Berwick East Lothian.
Robert Louis Stevenson Lane
Robert Stevenson the engineer and lighthouse builder had a summerhouse in North Berwick and his grandson Robert Louis Stevenson the Author and poet spent his summers in North Berwick. The locals have made a lane in the centre of the High Street a memorial to the Stevensons with pictures and writings and a mural on the walls of the lane.
Ben Sayers the golf company was founded in 1873 and is the oldest in the world. Ben Sayers was born in Fox Lane in Leith on the 23rd June 1856. He started making golf balls at the age of 20 he also player in many golf open championships.
Ben’s wife was the only employee and made upto twelve dozen golf balls a day.
Davie Strath a Scottish professional Golfer and ball maker died in 1879, his mould and ball making machine came up for auction, James Law bought it for Ben Sayers, which began a career in golf manufacturing.
The first clubs Ben invented were the ‘Benny’ and ‘jigger’ In 1898 was when Ben Sayers described himself as a ‘golf club manufacturer’ prior to that he called himself a ball maker. Ben Sayers died in 1917. Making clubs and balls opening golf clubs and designing golf courses worldwide. A man of great stature standing at 5′ 3″ tall (1.6 mtrs).
The statue of Ben Sayers stands at the edge of the first putting green which opened 14 June 1920
Five Islands @ North Berwick
The Five islands of North Berwick are The Bass Rock, Lamb, Craigleith, Fidra and May all All have their own story.
On the harbour there is a compass which shows the position of the islands and their names
The Coastal Communities Museum in North Berwick covers the history of the area from the Romans and when it was part of Northumbria, the Cromwell invasion and the prison on the bass rock in the Jacobite times. The history of East Lothian is long and full of places to visit Castles, Roman Forts, Flight Museum , Birthplace of the Scottish Flag (Saltire).
Doocot Bass Rock Farm
Round Doocot found on Bass Rock Farm at the east side of Berwick Law built circa 1750 was a fresh meat source. Taking the young pigeons for tender meat. Still used by Pigeons but not for human consumption.
Green Golf Plaque
Arnaud Massy was the first non-Briton to win the Open Championship In 1907
and remains the only French golfer to have won any of the four 'Major' events.
There are 47 plaques on walls around North Berwick commemorating golfers, course designers, Course Architects, Amateur and Professional Golfers.
Scottish Seabird Centre
The Scottish Seabird Centre was opened on the 21 May 2000 by HRH Prince Charles. The Seabird Centre has boat trips around the islands giving a tour that is second to none. Things to see on the trip are birds, Puffin, Gannet, Kittiwake, Cormorant, Tern, Gull and many more species, also wildlife include Dolphin, whales, and seals. There is a Lobster Hatchery and for people not wishing a trip on the water, there is live camera feeds attached to computers to enable everyone to see what’s happening on the islands. The Bass Rock has the largest Gannet colony in the world and was described by Sir David Attenborough as the 12 wonder of the natural world.
The fountain was erected in the memory of Isabella Catherine Lewis 1939
North Berwick Beaches
There are two golden sandy beaches in North Berwick both are safe for swimming and water sports. The west beach is backed onto the Golf Course and the east beach (Milsey beach) has a sea pool safe for children to swim in. With shops restaurant and accommodation all within 5 minutes walk a great place for all the family to holiday. This was a favourite place for the Stevenson family (Robert Louis Stevenson). Just up the coast was where he got the idea for Treasure Island see Fidra Island at Yellowcraigs at Dirleton.
Lobsters are important to the ecosystem and are also a food that is eaten around the world.
The present stocks of Lobster in the Scandinavian and Mediterranean seas have collapsed and we wish to rectify the problem. The Lobster Hatchery is just one of the methods in replenishing stocks of Lobster. The Hatchery has returned over 14,000 young lobster into the Firth of Forth. Go and see the work that is being done to replenish stocks,
St Andrews Kirk Potts
St andrews Kirk Potts taking over from the Kirk at the harbour opened circa 1675 but took until circa 1825 to be complete. By the mid 1800's it became to small for the town and it held its last service in 1883
The St Andrews Blackadder Church opened in 1883. All three Kirks (churches) had the same bell. It rang at the harbour then the potts and finally it was replaced in 1928 after ringing in the blackadder.
The bell can be seen outside the St Andrews Blackadder church. One of the oldest bells in Scotland.
John Blackadder was minister in Dumfriesshire. He was outspoken against the appointment of bishops in the Church of Scotland. In 1662 he was thrown out of his parish and he moved to Edinburgh. He spent most of his time travelling and preaching in open-air where people would gather to her his sermons.
(Open air preaching, conventicle, was illegal until 1689). He became very popular all over the south of Scotland.
The government forces arrested John Blackadder in 1681 for his conventicles church assemblies in the outdoors. He was convicted and set to the prison on the Bass Rock. He died while a prisoner on the Bass Rock in 1685.
While imprisoned he spent his time writing his memoirs.
Bass Rock Prison
As he died in the parish of St Andrew he was taken to St Andrews Kirk Potts for burial. On the formation of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. A group of parishioners in North Berwick decided to name their new church, Blackadder Church in 1845 after the preacher John Blackadder and in 1989 the parishes of St Andrew and Blackadder were united to form the present parish of St Andrew Blackadder. His grave still stands in St Andrews Kirk Potts.
Here lies the body of Mr John Blackadder, minister of the gospel at Troqueer, in Galloway, who died on the Bass, after five years' imprisonment, Anno Dom. 1685, and of his age 63 years. Blest John, for Jesus' sake, in Patmos bound, His prison Bethel, Patmos Pisgah found, So the bless'd John, on yonder rock confined,- His body suffer'd, but no chains could bind His heaven-aspiring soul; while day by day, As from Mount Pisgah's top, he did survey The promised land, and view'd the crown by faith, Laid up for those who faithful are till death. Grace formed him in the Christian Hero's mould - Meek in his own concerns in's Master's bold; Passions to Reason chained, Prudence did lead - Zeal warmed his breast, and Reason cool'd his head. Five years on the lone rock, yet sweet abode, He Enoch-like enjoyed, and walk'd with God; Till, by long living on this heavenly food, His soul by love grew up too great, too good To be confined to jail, or flesh and blood. Death broke his fetters off, then swift he fled From sin and sorrow, and by angels led, Enter'd the mansions of eternal joy; - Blest soul, thy warfare's done, praise, love, enjoy. His dust here rests, till Jesus come again, - Even so, blest Jesus, come come, Lord Amen.
Fred Marr was Mr North Berwick, a fisherman and boatman. He spent his life taking passengers on boat trips and showing them the wonders of the islands around his home of North Berwick. In 1970 when he purchased the Sula I, and upgrading to two years later to Sula II. The Marr family ran the tour boat for 50 years before retiring. A bronze plaque can be seen near the harbour in his honour.
The inscription read;
Fred Marr 1923-2008
Fred was a fisherman, boatman to the Northern Lighthouse Board
conservationist guardian of the Bass Rock Gannets and rescuer of countless orphaned chicks.
For over 50 years passengers from all over the world sailed with Fred to
the Bass Rock and neighbouring islands, most famously on the clinker- built Sula II.
Fred was widely known and well respected. He will be remembered
for his seamanship, his knowledge of local islands and for his kindness and integrity.
A proud family man, Fred gave much and asked for little.
North Berwick Harbour
Old Swimming Pool
A harbour at North Berwick has been in existence circa 1150 when ferries would take passengers to Fife on their pilgrimage to St Andrews. An outdoor swimming pool opened on the east side of the harbour on the 8th August 1900. Scottish swimmers and Olympic champions of the past, Ellen King (my primary school teacher at Bruntsfied Edinburgh) and Jean McDowall were both regular swimmers at the old outdoor swimming pool. Ellen King (1909-1994) was a winner of two Olympic medals and three Commonwealth Games medals and also held world records. The outdoor pool at North Berwick was the place to be seen with swimmers and divers from all over the world taking part in exhibitions.
North Berwick Castle
Castle Hill North Berwick
On 'Castle Hill' North Berwick, a castle was built by the MacDuff family of Fife, known as North Berwick castle.
The castle was held by three noble families, the MacDuff, the Stewart and the Lauders. Originally built in the 13th century as a wooden motte and bailey and later the Lauder family built a stone tower with a defensive enclosure circa 1380, which was abandoned when they moved to a castle they built on the Bass Rock circa 1410.
There are no remains of the original castle at Misley but from the Castle Hill top are amazing views.
Castle Hill Views
Information board top of Castlehill North Berwick and present view October 2020.
Edward VII Coronation Tree
The Sycamore tree in Quality Street at the east end of North Berwick High Street was planted by King Edward the VII on
the 10th October 1902 to commemorate the Royal visit to North Berwick in the year of his coronation.
The Lodge Wall Tower House
The Lodge and Wall Tower House are at the entrance to the Lodge Grounds. The lands became the possession of Sir William Dick 1640 and then moved to Sir Hew Dalrymple his ancestor.
Lord North Berwick (Hew Dalrymple), president of the court of session on 7 June 1698 and died in the position
on 1 February 1737. The Lodge and grounds were built and constructed by his son.
The Lodge grounds in North Berwick town centre is a great place to spend time walking through the different gardens.
The first garden has many flowers a sundial, an aviary, rose garden and glass houses. The gardens have many standing stones and wide open spaces. There are many different types of trees a lavender garden and a children’s play park.
There is also a memorial to the Japanese surrender in 1945.