Dysart, Fife, Scotland

Last Saturday was a beautiful day here in Fife so we decided to take a look around Dysart which is just a couple of miles along the coast from Kirkcaldy. It’s an ancient burgh and there are still quite a few really old houses standing, and indeed still inhabited. The houses in the photo below are fairly typical of old houses on the east coast of Scotland. The design of the gables and roof is known as crows steps.

Pan Ha' Dysart

The view below is what the people living in those houses see from their front windows and it’s a view of the Bass Rock, it’s the rock on the left hand side, you’ll probably have to click to enlarge it. In reality it’s quite visible especially if the sun is shining on it because it’s now inhabited by thousands of seabirds, mainly puffins I think and their you know what makes the rock white. They used to put prisoners on the island which was probably worse than a death sentence as the North Sea is wild there most of the time.

Bass Rock and North Berwick Law

This photo is of the harbour master’s house which is now a bistro. It was lying quite derelict for years but at least now it’s being used for something. Quite a lot of money had to be spent on it, you know what old buildings are like when they aren’t used. They seem to lose the will to exist very quickly.

Dysart Harbour Master's House

Now, I must admit that I’d never even heard of John Pitcairn before last Saturday. But he seems to be quite famous in Boston, Massachusetts – historically anyway! I’m not at all sure if information on this plaque is correct. He seems to have died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His death was painted by John Trumbull in his painting The Death of General Warren.

Plaque to John Pitcairn, St Serf's Tower, Dysart

It has taken us about 25 years to get around to visiting this place, we always seem to ignore what’s on our doorstep!

10 thoughts on “Dysart, Fife, Scotland

  1. You knew you’d get me with the Boston reference, didn’t you?! I’ve been to Bunker Hill and knew that the battle was actually fought on Breed’s Hill. And I’ve seen the painting of General Warren’s Death in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but I guess I didn’t know what I was looking at. I’ll see it differently next time.

    As for Joh Pitcairn, I never heard of him. At first, I thought he might be the source of the name of the Pitcairn Islands, but I see that was his brother. Now that must have been an adventurous family!

    We used to slip our boat at Constitution Marina in Charlestown, MA, the marina next to where Old Ironsides (U.S.S. Constitution) is kept. She’s a magnificent old ship and never fails to impress me. To see her on the water is amazing. She’s towed from her berth into the inner harbor each July 4th and turned around. On July 21, 1997, I was privileged to be on the water in the outer harbor as she sailed under her own power for the first time in over 100 years while the Blue Angels saluted her from the air. Gives me chills to remember it! (And I was wickedly seasick in the choppy water from all the boats crammed into the harbor watching!)

    Beautiful photos! Those are lovely old houses. What views! And I’m delighted to see the old harbormaster’s house alive again.

    • Joan,

      Yes I thought of you as soon as I saw ‘Boston’ but I did think that he would probably only be ‘world famous’ in Dysart! I love those old ships, it must have been a great experience to be part of the July 4th celebrations. Poor you, being so seasick though. Luckily I’ve never suffered from it. My mother-in-law got seasick just watching the sea on TV.

  2. What a view!

    I can imagine the weather turning, and coming in and me curled up on the sofa all warm watching it through the window!

    • Jo,

      It is a great view on a lovely day and loads of people want a house with a sea view but I always think about the many days when it’s deadly grey or swathed in freezing mist. I think a duvet would be required to get cosy on a sofa because the wind tends to howl through old houses no matter how much you try to stop it. Mind you those houses don’t have high ceilings so it might not be too bad. I would worry about the sea coming in to pay me a visit though!

  3. Hi there, been lurking around your blog for a month or 2,As a former resident of the Royal Burgh of Dysart ,I canny believe you havny popped down for a visit before now!
    In a previous life I was proud to be secretary of Dysart Sailing Club, & we used the Harbourmasters House as our Clubrooms, There are also links with Australia, Thro’ John McDowall Stuart & Charles Rennie Mackinosh,designed, tho’ I’m nae sure if he painted ,Murals in St Serfs Kirk,One of the Scottish Colourists (whose name escapes me for now!) also belonged Dysart, one o’ his paintings is in the Kirkcaldy Art gallery, I think it’s a scene in North Africa, tho’I’ll need to look this up.Keep up the good work, I’ll keep lurking!

    • John Wright,
      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I can hardly believe that it has taken me so long to wander a couple of miles to Dysart ! We tried to visit the John McDowall museum but it was shut. I saw the Rennie Mackintosh murals on tv but I don’t think the church is open to the public. I often have a look around the Kirkcaldy art gallery but I can’t think of a North African scene. I’ll be going there soon so I’ll look out for it.



      • Hi Katrina, silly me, I checked my catalogue this morning, the painter is Thomas Millie-Dow.
        I’ll be back in Dysart this Thursday am to visit my Dad, with, of course, the customary trip tae the harbour.

        • John,
          Thanks for the info. Millie-Dow wasn’t a name which I was familiar with despite being keen on Scottish art. I had to google him! We visited the McManus gallery in Dundee recently too so I probably saw one of his paintings there. He seems to have had quite a talent going by what I’ve seen on wiki.
          Good luck on Thursday in Dysart, the weather forecast is terrible so you’ll probably be drookit!


  4. Hello. I’ve been researching Dysart for a book I’m writing on David Thomson of Corstorphine. I believe he’s the Scottish founder of New Hampshire and 1st governor of Massachusetts from a 1622 grant under the Council for New England. (The Duke’s of Lennox and Hamilton signed the grant.) I have uncovered a document which lists him as “in Dysart” in 1607 shortly after becoming heir to his father, Rev. Richard Thomson, minister of Ratho. David’s stepmother was Agnes Foulis of the Foulis/Heriot family whose niece was married to Thomas Hamilton, the Earl of Haddington and Sec’y of State under James 1. One of his grandmothers from 1425 was Jean Sinclair married to Sir John Forrester of Corstorphine. Her brother built Rosslyn Chapel. The Thomsons were married into the Forresters of Corstophine. Henry Sinclair had given a grant for the colliers of Dysart to the Forresters. I suspect the the Sinclair of Rosslyn in charge in 1607 would have been associated with David. There’s lots more to the story, but that’s why I have a special interest in Dysart. By the way, he named his house in what became New Hampshire – Pan -away. I wondered if he was thinking of Pan Ha.
    PS My pen name is G. Thomson Fraser. If you go to my Amazon.com webpage, you can click on the heraldic seal associated with David. I think the seal had Templar iconography. What do you think?

    • Genevieve Fraser,
      I had a look at the seal, it looks like the Templar cross but I don’t really know anything about the subject. I’ve never even been to Rosslyn Chapel, or read Dan Brown. I think David must have named his house after Pan Ha. I wonder if you know that just a mile away from Dysart there’s Ravenscraig Castle which was also built by the Sinclair family, there’s a street nearby called Rosslyn Street, so I think it’s the same family. I wrote a post about it here, it might be of interest to you. I also noticed that John Pitcairn‘s mother’s maiden name was Hamilton so possibly he was a descendant of your David Thomson. You can email me at skirvkat@gmail.com if you think I can be of any help to you.


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