North Berwick

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For other uses, see North Berwick (disambiguation).
North Berwick
Scottish Gaelic: Bearaig-a-Tuath
Scots: Northbarrick, Northberwyke
North Berwick West Bay.JPG
West Bay from the harbour
North Berwick is located in East Lothian
North Berwick
North Berwick
 North Berwick shown within East Lothian
Population 6,605 
OS grid reference NT555855
Council area East Lothian
Lieutenancy area East Lothian
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town North Berwick
Postcode district EH39
Dialling code 01620 89xxxx
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament East Lothian
Scottish Parliament East Lothian
List of places
UK
Scotland

Coordinates: 56°03′30″N 2°43′01″W / 56.0582°N 2.7170°W / 56.0582; -2.7170

North Berwick (Scottish Gaelic: Bearaig a Tuath)[1] is a seaside town and former royal burgh in East Lothian, Scotland. It is situated on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, approximately 25 miles east north east of Edinburgh. North Berwick became a fashionable holiday resort in the 19th century because of its two sandy bays, the East (or Milsey) Bay and the West Bay, and continues to attract holiday makers to this day. Golf courses at the ends of each bay are open to visitors.

History[edit]

North Berwick East Bay

The name North Berwick means North 'barley farmstead' ('bere' in Old English means 'barley' and 'wic' in Old English is 'farmstead'). The word North was applied to distinguish this Berwick from Berwick-upon-Tweed, which throughout the Middle Ages the Scots called South Berwick. It was recorded as Northberwyk in 1250. On the south of North Berwick Law there is evidence of at least eighteen hut circles, rich middens and a field system dating from 2000 years ago.

A view east towards the town centre
The same view during early snowfall in November

North Berwick Harbour was built in the 12th century, and for 500 years there was a ferry crossing to Earlsferry, near Elie in Fife. This was popular with pilgrims to St Andrews. This ferry was recently reinstated; during the summer a boat travels between North Berwick and Anstruther in Fife, in homage to the original ferry. Excavations have shown there was activity at the harbour area from as early as the 8th century, while the "Auld Kirk Green" at the harbour was used for gatherings by the accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials. Legend has it that "Satan himself" attended a ritual there in 1590, although it is more likely that Satan was "played" by Francis Stewart Hepburn, 5th Earl of Bothwell. During the 16th century at least 70 people were implicated in the Witch Trials, and the events inspired works such as Burns' "Tam o' Shanter" and "The Thirteenth Member" by Mollie Hunter. One of the most famous Witch trials at North Berwick was of the woman named Agnes Sampson. She was accused of making a potion to make the storms rough as King James VI of Scotland was sailing home from Denmark with his new wife, Anne of Denmark. The trial took place in 1591 and King James was there himself. Sampson was tortured to confess and then burned at the stake, like many other innocent people.

Harbour at low tide

English invaders in the Middle Ages led to the construction of nearby Tantallon Castle, and St Mary's Priory, nunnery, was built at North Berwick. The late 19th century saw North Berwick develop golfing and holiday facilities.

The size and population of the town remained fairly steady until the 1970s, at which point housebuilding began in earnest around the periphery of the town, first to the south (1950s–70s), then a series of major expansions to the west (1980s-present) along the line of the railway. There is talk of further developments focussing on "affordable housing" on the south side of the town. While the population might not have truly "exploded", house prices have. North Berwick consistently appears at the top of national house price surveys, and like-for-like prices are comparable to Edinburgh. North Berwick was listed as the most expensive seaside town in Scotland in 2006, and was second to St. Andrews in 2009.[2][3]

Islands[edit]

Harbour and Craigleith

Several of the Islands of the Forth are near the town and visible from it: e.g. Fidra, The Lamb, Craigleith, and Bass Rock; the latter hosts a thriving colony of birds, including puffins, gannets, and other seabirds. The Bass Rock appears white, but this is due largely to the gannets and their guano that cover much of its surface. The seabirds themselves can be observed at close range through remote cameras operated from the recently developed Scottish Seabird Centre near the harbour.

Attractions[edit]

A "Spring" Tide, West Bay
West Bay front North Berwick
  • Boat trips to the Bass Rock, Fidra and other islands.
  • Scottish Seabird Centre – Visitor centre about seabirds found on Bass Rock and elsewhere.
  • North Berwick Law – A 613-foot (187 m) volcanic hill which rises above the town, with a Napoleonic era signal station. The whale's jawbone "arch" at the summit collapsed in June 2005, and was eventually replaced by a fibreglass replica in June 2008.
    North Berwick Law seen from the seafront of North Berwick
  • Beaches – One of North Berwick's main attractions, the beaches have golden sands and rocks, and a tide-filled boating pond/paddling pool on the East Sands.
  • Seacliff. Just to the east of the town, an entry fee is charged at this private and largely unspoilt beach and estate.
  • Golf – There are two golf courses in the town, the West Links and the Glen, or East Links, and numerous others in the surrounding area. There are also two 18-hole putting greens and a Golfing Heritage Trail to follow through the town.
  • Tennis – Venue for the annual East Lothian Open Tennis Tournament.
  • The East Lothian Yacht Club hosts many national and international sailing events.
  • The John Muir Way, the East Lothian coastal path, passes through the town.
  • Tantallon Castle, a mostly ruined 14th-century fortress in the care of Historic Scotland, is 3 miles east of North Berwick.
  • The Fringe by the Sea aims to be the best small scale, multi artform festival in Scotland, during one week in August.

Transport[edit]

The town is served by North Berwick railway station. The North Berwick Line has provided a rail link with Edinburgh since the 19th century and the line, now operated by First ScotRail, is still the principal transit link between the town and the capital. The service takes 33 minutes and runs hourly with extra trains during peak commuting periods and on Saturdays. Combination rail-and-entry tickets for the Scottish Seabird Centre are available. There is occasional service through to Glasgow Central station on weekdays although anyone heading for central Glasgow is advised to switch to the Edinburgh – Glasgow Queen St. service. First has a monopoly on public transport between North Berwick and Edinburgh as they also operate the bus route which has a similar frequency and a journey time of about 90 minutes. Edinburgh is the nearest airport, approximately a 45 minute drive or around 80 minutes by public transport.

Within the town there is a half-hourly bus service which runs on a loop from the High Street (Church St. bus stop) to Tesco and back before continuing on to Edinburgh. There is also a seasonal park-and-ride and local services to Haddington, Dunbar and attractions such as the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune.

Literary links[edit]

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894), spent many holidays in the town as a child and young man. His father, Thomas Stevenson the famous engineer and lighthouse builder took his family to stay in various locations in the town. The island of Fidra is said to be the original inspiration for Treasure Island, and much of his novel Catriona (the sequel to Kidnapped) is set locally.

The Scottish author William Dalrymple (born 1965), whose work primarily focuses on British India, has roots in the town, with his family having once owned much of the area. William's father Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple is the current and 10th Baronet of North Berwick. William is the youngest of four brothers.

Notable people[edit]

Royal visit[edit]

Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited the town on 2 July 2009. The Queen presented the Scottish Seabird Centre with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and unveiled a plaque commemorating the day. The Queen arrived in the royal helicopter, landing on the rugby playing fields, and was transported to and from there by car.

Twin town[edit]

Since 1999 North Berwick has been twinned with Kerteminde, Denmark.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "List of railway station names in English, Scots and Gaelic". Newsnetscotland.com. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  2. ^ "House prices rise beside seaside". BBC News. 26 May 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "North 'cheapest for seaside home'". BBC News. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 

External links[edit]