Burntisland

Burntisland BUI PS NT234857 1 10m

the New Havin 1540 TA vii 331 [rubric]
maister of wark of the Brint Eland 1540 TA vii 331 [mention is also made here of ‘the stane boit (dock) of the said Iland’]
(burgh of) Brint-iland 1541 RMS iii no. 2383
(the harbour of) Brunt-iland 1542 RMS iii no. 2731 + footnote [land of Wester Kingorne which surrounded the harbour of Brunt-iland]
terras de Grefland et Cunnyngayrland nunc vocat<as> Brunteland 1544 Dunf. Reg. no. 554 [lands of Grefland and Cunnyngayrland (whch lands are) now called Burntisland lying in the shire of Kingorne]
terras de Greiflandis et Cwnyngerlandis nunc vocat<as> Brunteland 1552 Dunf. Reg. no. 574 [lying in the shire of Kyngorne; later in the same charter the port is referred to as ‘portu de Newhavin alias port of grace vocat<o>‘ (port of Newhavin otherwise called Port of Grace)]
(town and port of) Bryntyland alias Westir Kinghorne 1571 RMS iv no. 1983
(burgh of) Birtyland 1574 RMS iv no. 2212
Sir Robert Meluill of Brunteland 1621 APS iv, 661b [Melville]
(burgh of) Bruntiland 1632 RMS viii no. 1927 [the burgh of Bruntiland with the port and ship station of the said burgh (which port is) called the Port of Grace (cum portu et navium statione dicti burgi Portu Gracie nuncupato)]
Brunt island 1642 Gordon MS Fife [the is of island has been overwritten by a y to form yland]
Brunt Illand 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife [also East Fife]
Bruntyland 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Castell of Brune Ylland 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Burntisland 1753 Roy sheet 17, 5
Bruntisland 1775 Ainslie/Fife

Sc burnt or brunt + Sc island

‘Burnt island’ Local tradition, recorded in the OSA (p. 90), states that the name arose because fishers’ huts had been burnt on an islet east of the present harbour of Burntisland, and since incorporated into Burntisland docks. As there is no doubt that the second element is the Sc iland ‘island’ (pace Nicolaisen 1970, s.n.), and as no other alternative readily offers itself, this local tradition from the late eighteenth century should not be dismissed lightly. The burning of the huts might even have been a deliberate policy of land-clearance preparatory to the construction of the port in the early sixteenth century. The official name of this new royal harbour was Newhaven or the Port of Grace, so Burntisland may have been an unofficial nickname or low register name. Whatever the relationship between these names, Burntisland soon ousted the others.

The lands on which the burgh was built were called *Greiflands and *Cunningarlands (e.g. Dunf. Reg. no. 554). Greif may be a personal name, as the Grieve family were prominent in the burgh of Burntisland by c.1600 (see Blyth 1948, 28, 30; see also Stephen 1938, 169–74). Sc cunningar is ‘rabbit warren’, and obviously refers to previously uninhabited land, managed by Dunfermline Abbey as a source of meat and fur. The last reference to *Cunningarlands in RMS appears to be in 1580.

The change of name of the parish from Kinghorn Wester to Burntisland is discussed in BUI Introduction above. The NGR is of the fine sixteenth-century parish kirk of Burntisland.

/bʌrntˈailənd/, locally /bʌrntˈailən/

This place-name appeared in printed volume 1