Newburgh, Fife

Newburgh is a royal burgh and parish of Fife, Scotland , having a population of 2,171 (est 2011). Newburgh's population has grown about 10% since 1901 when the population was counted at 1904 persons. In 1266 Newburgh was granted burgh status by King Alexander III of Scotland, as a burgh belonging to the Abbot of Lindores. In 1600, Newburgh was given to Patrick Leslie, son of the Earl of Rothes – a powerful Scottish family - and in 1631, Newburgh was made a Royal Burgh by King Charles I.


Newburgh High Street and central tower
Location within Fife
OS grid referenceNO234183
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCupar
Postcode districtKY14
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament

Newburgh is situated on the Firth of Tay, seven miles (11 km) northwest of Ladybank Junction alongside the Edinburgh to Inverness railway line (between Perth and Ladybank). Newburgh railway station closed in 1955 (pre-Beeching). An active campaign to reopen the station is ongoing and locals are hopeful of success.

Fife Scottish (now Stagecoach in Fife) used to have a bus depot at East Shore Road but the depot closed in 1991. No buses are now based in Newburgh although the Perth to Glenrothes and Newburgh to St Andrews via Ladybank station still serve the town.

Since WW2 many new houses have been built in Newburgh but the population has only increased by about 10%. Probably because average house occupancy rates are much lower since the baby boomer years.

For some time, Newburgh's industries chiefly consisted of the making of linen, linoleum floorcloth, oilskin fabric and quarrying. There was for many years a net and coble fishery on the Firth Of Tay, mainly for salmon and sea trout.

The harbour area was used originally for boatbuilding and the transshipment of cargoes to Perth for vessels of over 200 tons. Raw materials for making linoleum such as cork and linseed oil were also imported at the "Factory Pier". Aggregates from the Whin Stone quarry were also shipped from Bell's Pier.

The main employer from the early 1920s was the linoleum factory known locally as the "Tayside" from The Tayside Floorcloth Company. For many years Newburgh was a prosperous industrial town pulling in workers for the factories from surrounding towns and villages. As linoleum fell out of fashion in the late 60s and 70s attempts were made to produce Vinyl flooring and tiles but the factory was no longer profitable and after changing hands a couple of times it finally closed in 1980 after a large fire destroyed much of the building.

Situated to the East of the linoleum factory was another factory known locally as "The Oilskin", many women worked there from before The Great War producing oilskin fabric for waterproof clothing such as fishermen's suits and Sou'westers. The factory was taken over by textiles giant Courtaulds in the 1960s but sadly also closed some years later as demand for the product declined.

All of these old industries in Newburgh have gone except quarrying which is now the town's biggest single employer. Newburgh is now mainly a dormitory town with many of those of working age travelling outwith the town for work. Perth, Dundee and Glenrothes are in easy reach by car. Local trades and services including a Health Centre and a Nursing Home and a few shops including a brand new Co-op on the site of the former Ship Inn still provide some local employment.

In 2017 a new whisky distillery opened on the site of Lindores Abbey at the east end of Newburgh. This will produce Lindores Abbey whisky on the site where the earliest reference to "Aqua Vita" a form of whisky was produced by the monks. The distillery incorporates a high quality event venue and offers catering and tours of the distillery and Abbey ruins.

After many years of lying derelict, the linoleum factory was completely demolished and cleared and its site is now a recreational waterfront linked to the Mugdrum Park and the Fife Coastal Path.

Newburgh was the birthplace in 1823 of Robert Hunter lexicographer and encyclopaedist.

The civil parish has a population of 2,171 (in 2011).[1]

Local structures

Town house

The plain Georgian town house, with central tower and spire, was built on the south side of the High Street in 1808. It forms a continuous block with the other houses. The Laing Museum and Library was added to the north side of the street in 1894-96. Museum open in summer only.

Macduff's Cross

On high ground, about a mile southwest at 56°20′20″N 3°14′44″W, stand the remains (only the pedestal) of Macduff's Cross,[2] which (in legend) marks the spot where the clan Macduff in return for its chief's services against Macbeth was granted rights of sanctuary and composition for murder done in hot blood.

Denmylne Castle

Denmylne Castle[3](15th century?), about a mile south-east of Newburgh at 56°20′39″N 3°12′55″W on the Cupar road, was the home for more than 250 years of the Balfour of Denmylne family, of which the two brothers, James (1600–1657), the annalist and Lord Lyon, and Andrew (1630–1694), founder of the Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, were the most distinguished members. The castle was abandoned in 1772 when the estate was sold and now stands within a 19th-century steading whose construction will have necessitated the removal of the castle's subsidiary buildings. It has been unroofed for at least 200 years and is in an increasingly dangerous state of disrepair. A lintel dated 1620 has been re-used in one of the steading's building. It is a scheduled ancient monument.[4]

Lindores Abbey

Lindores Abbey is situated near the Tay, on the East side of the town. Of the Tironensian (reformed Benedictine) abbey, founded about 1190 by David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion, there are only fragmentary remains, although the ground plan of the whole structure can still be traced. Best preserved are the south-west gateway through the precinct wall, various discontinuous fragments of the wall itself, and part of the east cloister range, including the still vaulted slype (passage from the cloister to the east end of the church), all built of local red sandstone. The monastic church itself had a single aisle on the north side, with aisled north and south transepts, a central tower (presumably) and a detached western tower or campanile, as at Cambuskenneth Abbey. It is a scheduled ancient monument.[5]

The monks were noted agriculturists and their orchards famous. Many of the houses in Newburgh's High Street have orchards with trees descended from the original plantings, although many plots have now been sold and developed for housing; fruit markets are regularly held in the town in late summer and early autumn. Numerous architectural fragments from the Abbey are built into buildings in the town.

Lindores Abbey is also famous as the birthplace of Scotch Whisky owing to its links to Friar John Cor and the Exchequer Rolls of 1494. The Abbey is now home to the McKenzie Smith family and has been for 100 years. The site is being preserved and added to in the form of a new distillery, due to open in mid 2017.

Clatchard Craig Hill fort

The multi-walled Pictish hill fort of Clatchard Craig once stood to the south of the town.[6][7] Archeological excavations have shown that the fort was occupied between the sixth and eighth centuries AD, as a site of high status.[6][7] The fort was destroyed by quarrying during the late twentieth century.

Natural areas nearby

Nearby Lochmill Loch — 56°19′56″N 3°15′32″W — has been dammed to provide the town with a water supply and fishing.

At Blackearnside, a forest of alders, to the east of the village, Wallace defeated Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke in 1298.

Mugdrum Island, opposite the large Mugdrum estate from which it takes its name, ("ridge of the pig[s]" in Gaelic), is offshore in the Firth dividing it into 'North Deep' and 'South Deep' channels. For many years cattle were ferried over to the island for summer grazing, but this is no longer practised.


Newburgh is home to the junior football club Newburgh F.C and an active Sailing club.


  1. Census of Scotland 2011, Table KS101SC – Usually Resident Population, publ. by National Records of Scotland. Web site retrieved March 2016. See “Standard Outputs”, Table KS101SC, Area type: Civil Parish 1930
  2. Macduff's Cross in the Gazetteer for Scotland
  3. Denmylne Castle in the Gazetteer for Scotland
  4. Historic Environment Scotland. "Denmylne Castle 1600m SE of Newburgh (SM852)". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  5. Historic Environment Scotland. "Lindores Abbey (SM836)". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  6. The site record for Clatchard Craig at RCAHMS
  7. Excavation Summary by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Newburgh (Scotland)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 467. Newburgh is also home to Newburgh Sailing club and is an RYA recognised training centre
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