Methil WMS MEX PS NO358006 1 10m

Methkil 1207 CPL i, p. 30 [belonging to the bishop of St Andrews]
(John de) Methkil 1212 St A. Lib. 316
Methkil 1218 CPL i, p. 61
(John de) Methkill’ c.1220 St A. Lib. 272
(John de) Methkil 1228 Laing Chrs. no. 6
(John de) Methkil c.1239 Midl. Chrs. (Soutra) no. 14
(Sir John de) Meythkil c.1240 Midl. Chrs. (Soutra) no. 30
(Maurice of) Methkil c.1240 St A. Lib. 269
(church of) Methkil c.1250 St A. Lib. 33
(church of) Metkyl c.1250 Dunf. Reg. no. 313
(church of) Methkil 1275 Bagimond’s Roll p. 39
(church of) Methkil 1276 Bagimond’s Roll p. 62
(cornmill of) Methkyl c.1332 Fraser, Wemyss ii no. 8 [Michael of Wemyss lord of that ilk’s cornmill of Methil]
(mill of) Methkyl 1376 Fraser, Wemyss ii no. 12
(lands of) Methkyll c.1390 Fraser, Wemyss ii no. 19
Methkyll 1452 RMS ii no. 1444
(barony of) Methill 1603 Retours (Fife) no. 129
(parish church of) Methill; (lands & barony of) Methill 1614 RMS vii no. 1026
Methill 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife
Methilltoune alias Ennerleiuen 1670 Fraser, Wemyss i p. 283 [weekly market held there]
Methel 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Coaltown of Methil 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Methill Pans 1753 Roy sheet 18, 1
Methell 1775 Ainslie/Fife
tenement in Methill 1784 Sasines no. 925 [tenement in Methill and part of the Links thereof]
Innerleven or Methilburgh or Dubbyside 1795 Sasines no. 4143
tenement in Inverleven or Methilburgh 1795 Sasines no. 4290
Methel 1828 SGF
Methil 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn.

? G meadh(on) + G cill

‘Middle church’. In Old Irish a form such as *mid cill might be expected. However, the e in the first syllable, which is a consistent feature of the name Methil from its earliest forms, might have formed under the influence of G meadhon, OIr medón ‘middle’, which also appears in compounds, but consistently as a two-syllable word. Alternatively the name may have been *medon-cill, with later loss of the unstressed middle syllable.

The wider significance of this name, if it does mean ‘middle church’, is explored in WMS Introduction above.

Methil is today the name of an industrial town, now amalgamated with neighbouring Buckhaven, whose centre lies not around the site of the medieval church, which was on the River Leven, but on the coast one km to the south-east. This came about through the development of a burgh and port there in the seventeenth century, which by the early twentieth century had become Scotland’s chief coal-exporting centre (Millar 1895, ii 55; Pride 1990, 66). This was known initially as Methilltoune (1670) or Methilburgh (1795). That both these places are given the alternative name of Innerleven shows that the application of the name Innerleven was wider than it may originally have been. Innerleven was a separate settlement 0.3 km up the coast at the mouth of the River Leven, and lay in a detached part of MAI (see WMS Introduction and Innerleven WMS above).

Methil is called Methill Pans on Roy’s map of the 1753, which name recalls its other major industry at this time, namely salt-production. Roy also shows Inverleven as the separate settlement which it in fact was. On Ainslie/Fife (1775) the settlement around the harbour is called simply Methill, while Innerleven is given its alternative name of Dubby Side.

The above NGR is of the ruins of the medieval kirk above the south bank of the Leven, in a corner of the modern cemetery.

It is sometimes referred to locally as The Methil.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 1