Dalgety Bay

Coordinates: 56°02′35″N 3°22′03″W / 56.04295°N 3.36755°W / 56.04295; -3.36755
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Dalgety Bay
View of Dalgety Bay from North Queensferry across Inverkeithing Bay
Dalgety Bay is located in Fife
Dalgety Bay
Location within Fife
Population9,710 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNT149841
• Edinburgh8.5 mi (13.7 km)
• London339 mi (546 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDunfermline
Postcode districtKY11
Dialling code01383
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
56°02′35″N 3°22′03″W / 56.04295°N 3.36755°W / 56.04295; -3.36755

Dalgety Bay (/dælˈɡɛti ˈb/ ) is a coastal town and parish in Fife, Scotland, on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, 9 miles from Edinburgh city centre. The civil parish is the 8th largest in Fife with a population of 10,777 (2011)[1][2]

Dalgety bay was named after the original village of Dalgety, evident by the ruins of the 12th century St Bridget's Kirk. The root of the place-name Dalgety is the Scottish Gaelic word dealg, 'thorn', and the full name originally meant 'the place of the thorn[-bushes]'.[3] The new town, of which building started in 1965, takes its name from the main bay it adjoins, but the town stretches over many bays and coves including Donibristle Bay and St David's Bay.

Dalgety Bay is a commuter town and around 30% of the towns' workers work in Edinburgh.[4] While the architecture of the town reflects construction by volume housebuilders, the town is a regular winner of the Best Kept Small Town title.[5] Dalgety Bay contains 9 Listed Buildings or structures by Historic Scotland.


Dalgety Bay began as the village of Dalgety, which was built on the site of the 12th century St Bridget's Kirk.The land surrounding the town was part of the estate owned by the Earls of Moray who built Donibristle House as their residence. In 1592 James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Moray was murdered on the seashore near Donibristle by his rival George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, which is remembered in the popular ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Moray.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the village was destroyed by order of the Earls of Moray.[6] and the inhabitants dispersed. During the First World War Morton Gray Stuart, 17th Earl of Moray donated a portion of his land to the Crown, which built an airfield there in 1917 as a base for the Royal Naval Air Service. The town also sent 30 men into the First World War, with only eight returning unharmed. The Royal Naval Air Service improved and expanded the aerodrome during the Second World War as HMS Merlin, an air station, and constructed an extensive aircraft maintenance facility there.

Construction of the modern town of Dalgety Bay as Scotland's first "enterprise town" began around 1965 on the site of RNAS Donibristle [7] and much of the remaining ground of the Earls of Moray family seat, Donibristle House.[8] The town stretches across several bays and coves of the northern coast of the Firth of Forth including Donibristle Bay and St David's Bay.


There are two primary schools in Dalgety Bay: Dalgety Bay Primary School and Donibristle Primary School.[9] Dalgety Bay sits within the catchment area for Inverkeithing High School.

Radioactive objects[edit]

A series of radioactive objects have been found on the shoreline of Dalgety Bay since the 1990s. The objects come from an eroded landfill that contains debris from Second World War aircraft that originally had radium dials. In 2013, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency found that the Ministry of Defence was solely responsible for the contamination. One found in 2011 measured 10 MBq. The objects are believed to come from an eroded landfill that contains debris from Second World War aircraft that originally had radium dials.[10] On 25 April 2012, the MoD and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency agreed a joint survey of the problem.[11] Since 1990, more than 2,500 radioactive hotspots have been found on the Dalgety Bay foreshore, one-third of them since September 2011. As of 2012, the Ministry of Defence was conducting a 12-month investigation of the contamination to try to avoid Dalgety Bay "becoming the first place in the UK to be legally designated as radioactive contaminated land".[12] In 2013, SEPA concluded that the MoD was solely responsible for the contamination.[13] In early 2014 the MoD made four proposals regarding how to deal with the contamination, ranging from erecting fences to keep the public out, to sealing it in with concrete.[14]

In September 2023, SEPA announced that the operation to remove the contamination had been successfully completed and that the relevant stretch of shoreline was now safe for public access for the first time since 2011. Some 6,500 radioactive particles, mostly of low activity, had been removed, with a purpose-built scanner being used to detect the particles. The project had previously been reported to cost £10.5 million.[15]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ Census of Scotland 2011, Table KS101SC – Usually Resident Population, publ. by National Records of Scotland. Web site http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/ retrieved March 2016. See "Standard Outputs", Table KS101SC, Area type: Civil Parish 1930
  3. ^ "Dalgety". Fife Place-name Data. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Dalgety Bay | Understanding Scottish Places". www.usp.scot. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  5. ^ "Welcome to Dalgety Bay & Hillend CC". Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  6. ^ Omand The Fife Book p.176.
  7. ^ "Donibristle - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK". www.abct.org.uk.
  8. ^ Omand The Fife Book p.90.
  9. ^ "Dalgety Bay: Facilities and Services". Fifedirect. Fife Council. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  10. ^ Calire Smith, Scotsman, 16 October 2011.
  11. ^ MOD, News Article MOD and SEPA agree Dalgety Bay plan An Estate and Environment, 2012-04-25
  12. ^ Rob Edwards (2 May 2012). "Nuclear waste 'may be blighting 1,000 UK sites'". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "BBC News - Dalgety Bay radiation: Sepa says MoD was responsible for contamination". BBC Online. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  14. ^ "BBC News - Dalgety Bay radiation: MoD's proposals unveiled". BBC Online. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Dalgety Bay cleared for visitors after radioactive clean-up". BBC News. 15 September 2023. Retrieved 15 September 2023.

External links[edit]