Kirkcaldy is also known as the “Lang Toun” or “Long Town”, and its main street is certainly that, at 4 miles long, linking the original Royal Burgh to several of the surrounding communities. The origin of the name Kirkcaldy is thought to be from the Pictish words Caer and Caled, meaning “place of the hard fort”. The area’s history stretches back to the Bronze Age, when the it was used for burial sites, but the real beginning of the town of Kirkcaldy was when it became a burgh under the control of Dunfermline Abbey. There are many fine historic sites and buildings to visit. The ruined Ravenscraig Castle overlooks the sea from its position in the clifftop Ravenscraig Park on the eastern edge of Kirkcaldy. The Old Kirk, consecrated in 1244 by the Bishop of St Andrews, ceased to be a place of worship in 2010, but was bought up by Kirkcaldy Old Kirk Trust, which aims to preserve its heritage and maintain it for community use. Apart from the Old Kirk, Kirkcaldy’s oldest building is the 15th-century Sailor’s Walk, now restored. Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery features paintings by Scottish artists as well as local pottery. Kirkcaldy was the birthplace of the architect and interior designer Robert Adam, while its political claim to fame is that the local MP is ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who grew up in the town and whose father was a Minister of the Church there.
The discovery of coalfields in the area and the arrival of the railway in 1847 led to the town’s port gaining in importance, having gone into a decline following its heyday in the 1600s. As is so often the case, all this economic activity dwindled away, although it was recently reported that the harbour is to welcome cargo ships again for the first time in over 20 years, in a partnership development which aims to reduce the number of lorries on the country’s roads. At the eastern edge of the town is the old port of Dysart, where tall ships used to bring cargo from the Netherlands. It is a picturesque quarter with narrow alleys and old buildings. Each April, Kirkcaldy plays host to one of the biggest street fairs in Britain, the Links Market. The market is believed to have started in 1304, giving traders, farmers and craftsmen the chance to showcase their wares. It was Edward I who, a year later, granted permission for the fair to be held annually. The event has now changed beyond all recognition, with fairground rides a prominent feature, and it has earned a reputation as the longest street fair in Europe, running for almost a mile along the esplanade.
Map of the area.