The Mercat Cross of Burntisland

X marks the spot…

Burntisland is a classic example of why it is sometimes necessary to do some research before setting off on a quest.

Looking at a list of crosses online we decided to spend the day ticking a couple off our list and created a wee trail taking in Burntisland, Aberdour, and Culross.

A small coastal village over the bridges right by the Firth of Forth, Burntisland is one of those places that I figured I must have been before but don’t actually remember.

Even though it is just over 20 miles away it takes 45 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh (or a 50 minute train ride).
We parked, classically, on the High Street. It was a grey day and it was raining (What we would call dreich) and with no sign of the cross we decided to try locate the street we thought it must be on and set off rather aimlessly.
The weather was grim and we spent 30 minutes traipsing up and down strange side roads wondering where it would most likely be.
Used to talking to strangers I managed to find a local who rather bemusedly told me it was where we had parked the car…

Burntisland's Mercat Cross...
x marks the spot!

The whole time we thought we were looking for a physical monument, and Burntisland’s one is only marked with some stones in the road in the shape of an X.
Luckily for us though, our new friend Sam (also goes by Ann Grey for the local paper) was happy to tell us some history of the town including a bit about the cross, the fight for the Royal Burgh status to be returned, and the Town Hall (which also doubles up at irregular times as a museum of sorts).
With a past heavily reliant on industry it’s interesting to see how towns can move forward.
Burntisland has a charming and eclectic history that’s worth a wee visit. Would be nice to go back on a sunnier day and make the most of the coastline though as it was just a wee bit bleak when we were there – charming locals make up for it though!

Mercat Info:
Either this site marked with stones or the site nearby marked with a W (Town Hall) is thought to be the original location for the cross.
Old town plans show a cross being listed from 1745 but it is expected that a cross/ marker point was in place around 100 years before.
Not much more information is really available, might be worth me coming back to speak with the person running the impromptu town museum in the Town Hall.

Getting here from Edinburgh:
car or frequent trains from Waverley or Haymarket (30 a day)


Interesting things about Burntisland!:

Mary Somerville has some streets dedicated to her in Burntisland, where she grew up.
A mathematician, astronomer & philosopher, Somerville was (jointly) the first woman to be inducted to the Royal Astronomical Society for her research in 1835, alongside Caroline Herschel.
More found here…
https://www.burntisland.net/mabon.htm

David Danskin – founder and first captain of Arsenal football team was born & raised here in 1863.