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Inverkeithing is a town and former royal burgh in Fifemarker, Scotlandmarker, located on the Firth of Forthmarker. According to population estimates (2006), the town has a population of 5,265. The port town was given burgh status by King David I of Scotland (1124-53) in the 12th century and is situated about 9 miles (15 km) north from Edinburgh Airportmarker and about 4 miles from the centre of Dunfermlinemarker. Modern Inverkeithing is almost continuous with Rosythmarker and Dalgety Baymarker.Inverkeithing is a developing town and has many new housing sites including one next to the town's railway station.

Origin of name

The name is of Scottish Gaelic origin, Inbhir Ceitein. Inbhear mean 'confluence, inflow' thus 'mouth of the Keithing/Ceitein' or Inverkeithing. The Keithing is the name of a small river/burn that runs through the southern part of the town.


The parish church of St. Peter stands in its large churchyard on the east side of Church Street. The main part of the church is a large plain neo-Gothic 'preaching box' of 1826-27, but the western tower is 14th century. The traceried belfry openings are unusual. Built of soft sandstone, the tower is very weathered, and has been partially refaced. It is crowned by a lead spire with over-emphatic gabled dormers housing clock-faces (1835 and 1883). The church's roomy interior (now deprived of its galleries) is graced by a little-known treasure, one of the finest medieval furnishings to survive in any Scottish parish church. This is the large, extremely well-preserved, grey sandstone font of c 1398, which was rediscovered buried under the church, having been concealed at the Reformation. Its octagonal bowl is decorated with angels holding heraldic shields. These include the royal arms of the King of Scots, and of Queen Anabella Drummond (d.1401), the consort of Robert III (1390-1406). The high quality of the carving is explained by it being a royal gift to the parish church, Inverkeithing being a favourite residence of Queen Anabella.

The town was also the last place that Alexander III (1241-86) was seen before he fell off his horse at Kinghornmarker. Some texts have said that he fell off a cliff. Although there is no cliff at the site where his body was found there is a very steep rocky embankment - which would have been fatal in the dark.

The town museum (open in summer) is housed in a late medieval building which was part of the claustral ranges of the town's Franciscan friary. This is one of the few remnants of a house of the Greyfriars to have survived in Scotlandmarker. In the garden behind the museum, some stone vaults survive which were probably storage cellars associated with the friary.

The Battle of Inverkeithing (20 July 1651) was fought in the area, close to Pitreavie Castlemarker, during Oliver Cromwell's invasion of the Kingdom of Scotland following the Third English Civil War. This is considered of great importance to Clan MacLean, and the 20th century poet Sorley MacLean mentions Inverkeithing in one of his poems. The Russian admiral Samuel Greig was a native.

Inverkeithing is famous for its shipbreaking (Thos. W. Ward) yard. The second RMS Mauretania and the hull of the RMS Olympic were dismantled here.


Mercat Cross with Thomsoun's House
The heart of the medieval town is around the High Street and Church Street. On the High Street is the category A listed building, Inverkeithing friary, the best surviving example of a friary left in Scotlandmarker. The remains of the building either date from after the Reformation or the restoration between 1932 and 1934. The building now houses the Inverkeithing museum. The town also contains one of the finest examples remaining of a mercat cross in Scotlandmarker. The cross is said to have been built as a memorial for the marriage of the Duke of Rothesay with the daughter of the Earl of Douglas. Originally, the cross stood on the north end of the High Street, before moving to face the tolbooth and then to its present site at the junction between Bank Street and High Street, further up the road. The core of the mercat cross is said to date from the late 14th century with the octangonal shaft from the 16th century. Two of the shields on the cross bear the arms of Annabelle Drummond and the Douglas Family. Later, an unicorn and a shield depicting the St Andrew's Cross were added in 1688, the work by John Boyd of South Queensferrymarker. Located on Bank Street, between numbers 2-4, is the impressive Thomsoun's House which dates from 1617 and was reconstructed in 1965. The B-listed Inverkeithing (St Peter's) Church on Church Street was first built as a wooden celtic church before being adapted into a Norman stone structure, which was bequeathed by the monks of Dunfermline Abbeymarker in 1139. The church suffered a fire in 1825 and was re-built in its present form in 1826. Later, the church was restored in 1900. Only the tower dating from the 14th century remains from the pre-reformation church building. Opposite St Peter's is the A-listed L-plan tower house known as Fordell Lodgings which dates from 1671 and was built by Sir John Henderson of Fordell. On King Street is the much altered 16th century B-listed Rosebury House, once owned by the Rosebury family. The house was formerly called 'toofall' by the Earl of Dunbar, before being purchased by the Earl of Rosebury. On Townhall Street is the A-listed Inverkeithing Tolbooth, which displays the old town coat of arms, above the front door. The renaissance tower, located at the western end of the building, is the oldest part of the tolbooth dating from 1755. A three-storey classical building followed in 1770 as a replacement for the previous tolbooth. This consists of a prison or the black hole on the ground floor; the court room on the middle and the debtors' prison on the top.

List of ships broken up at Inverkeithing

The RMS Mauretania arrives at Inverkeithing ready to be broken for scrap, 1965


Inverkeithing is bypass by the M90 motorway. The M90 links Fife to Lothian and Edinburgh via the Forth Road Bridgemarker. The town is served by Inverkeithing railway stationmarker. The town is a hub for the rail network to and from Fife - passengers travelling to Edinburgh are carried over the Forth Rail Bridgemarker.



  1. Lamont-Brown Fife in History and Legend pp.162-164.
  2. Fife Regional Council Medieval Abbeys and Historic Churches p.40.
  3. Pride Kingdom of Fife p.35.
  4. Walker and Ritchie Fife, Perthshire and Angus pp.82-83.
  5. Ship Modelling Mailing List (SMML): Empress of Australia

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