North Berwick

East Lothian

Victoria Road, North Berwick
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Victoria Road, North Berwick

Located on the Forth coast, 25 miles (40 km) east of Edinburgh. North Berwick, distinguished from Berwick-upon-Tweed which was sometimes known as South Berwick, belonged to the Earls of Fife in the 12th Century and was a staging point for pilgrims on their way to St Andrews in Fife. It was founded as a burgh in 1373 and made a royal burgh c.1425.

By the 19th century it was known for its fishing industry. Its railway line (1850) from Edinburgh brought many for summer holidays as well as royal visitors who enjoyed sea bathing and its fine sandy beaches, earning it the name 'Biarritz of the North'. Today it is known as a holiday, golfing, sailing and angling centre. A new Sports Centre (opened 1996) by the High School, replaced an outdoor swimming pool at the harbour. Harbour facilities for pleasure craft have been extended and the Scottish Seabird Centre was built as a major new tourist attraction in 2000. Many North Berwick residents commute to Edinburgh.

Witchcraft trials were held at North Berwick in 1591 with several women accused of raising a storm to kill King James VI. The suspects blamed the Earl of Bothwell for inciting them during satanic rituals.

Its main sights include a Cistercian nunnery (12th century with a tower from c.1587), the Old Parish Church (17th century but now ruined), The Lodge and The Town House (both 18th-century), and the pink sandstone Playhouse Cinema (1930s art deco). The museum has exhibits on local and natural history, as well as the history of golf.

There is an 18 hole golf course at East Links.

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