Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk

Pettycur's Old Harbour

Survey and historical research

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This spread of stone in the foreground of this dramatic view of Pettycur taken during a super low tide in October, is all that remains of the 17th century harbour
This spread of stone in the foreground of this dramatic view of Pettycur taken during a super low tide in October, is all that remains of the 17th century harbour

In October 2015, shifting sand at Pettycur beach near Kinghorn in Fife revealed the outlines of a stone structure on the beach. The site is well-known locally. A cannon was discovered here in the 1990s, and small parts of the structure periodically emerge from the sand. However, when Pettycur resident Roy brought this site to our attention, no-one could remember so much of it being exposed.

Could this structure be the remains of Pettycur’s old harbour destroyed in a storm of 1625? On a beautiful October day, we surveyed what we could see.

When overlain onto this plan of 1801 drawn by John Rennie and tracked down by the Kinghorn Historical Society, the coincidence of the two put the identification of the structures as the old harbour beyond doubt.

Our survey (in red) overlain onto John Rennie's 1801 plan of Pettycur which shows the site of the old harbour
Our survey (in red) overlain onto John Rennie's 1801 plan of Pettycur which shows the site of the old harbour

The view from above is the best way of understanding the structure, so click on the image below to bring up a gigapan of the site made by Eddie Martin.