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Inchkeith, Fifeshire

Historical Description

INCHKEITH, an island, in the parish of Kinghorn, district of Kirkcaldy, county of Fife, 2½ miles (S. S. E.) from Kinghorn; containing 9 inhabitants. This is a rocky isle, in the Firth of Forth, lying nearly equidistant between Kinghorn and Leith. It derives its name from the gallant Keith, who in 1010 greatly signalised himself at the battle of Barrie, in Forfarshire, against the Danes; the island, with the barony of Keith, being conferred upon him on that occasion, as a reward for his valour, by Malcolm II. In the fourteenth century, having fallen to the crown, it was bestowed, with the lands of Kinghorn, on Lord Glammis; and the Strathmore family retained it until 1649, when it became the property, by purchase, of Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit. After passing subsequently into the hands of various persons, it at length came to the Dukes of Buccleuch. The isle is above a mile in length, of various breadth, and of irregular surface: it has excellent pasturage for cattle and sheep, and some patches of good arable land; with fine springs of water, collected by tubes into a tank for the supply of vessels. On the south side is a small quay; and a lighthouse stands on an elevation of 180 feet above the sea, and is seen at the distance of eighteen nautical miles. At the close of the fifteenth century, Inchkeith was made a place of compulsory retirement for persons labouring under a loathsome disease called the "grandgore". It was subsequently an important military station, particularly during the regency of Mary of Guise, and the reigns of the unfortunate Queen Mary, and Charles I.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis