Mercat Cross, Inverkeithing
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Mercat Cross, Inverkeithing

A royal burgh in W Fife situated on a hill overlooking the Inner Bay of Inverkeithing Bay, an inlet of the Firth of Forth. Given royal charters by William the Lion in 1139 and Robert III in 1399, it is one of the oldest royal burghs in Scotland with historical associations that date back to Roman times when Agricola, Roman Governor of Britain, is thought to have set up a camp here between 78 and 87 AD.

Little remains of the town's mediaeval walls which were demolished in the 16th Century, but notable historic landmarks include St. Peter's Kirk which dates from the 5th century AD when a church was founded here by St Erat, a follower of St Ninian; the Scottish Baronial Fordell Lodging, home of the Hendersons who were Hereditary Provosts of Inverkeithing; the Friary (housing a local museum) and Friary Garden; the Town House (1770); the Mercat Cross (c.1400); Thomsoun's House (1617) with its caphoused stair tower; and the Civic Centre (1962).

The building in the High Street now known as the Royal Hotel was the birthplace in 1735 of Samuel Greig, 'The Father of the Russian Navy'. A cottage in Heriot Street was the home of the parents of the Scottish Missionary Robert Moffat (1795 - 1883) who was the first man to translate the Bible into an African language and whose daughter married David Livingstone (1813-73).

Inverkeithing once held five annual fairs of which the only one to survive is the August Lammas Fair, an event that still features the traditional Hat and Ribbon Race. Now a centre of engineering and quarrying with a commuter railway station, Inverkeithing's Inner Bay remains a centre of shipbreaking, with some famous ships having met their end in Thomas Ward's yard here, including the liners RMS Mauretania in 1960 and RMS Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic in 1935. Belleknowes Industrial Estate lies to the north of the town. Caldwell & Co operated a sizeable paper mill here from 1914 but this closed in 2003, losing a major employer, and the buildings have subsequently been demolished.

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