Dunbar East Lothian Scotland

Dunbar Castle 

Dunbar Castle, the First timber fort was occupied by the Votanidi tribe, a tribe that controlled the east of Scotland and England between the River Forth and Humber during the roman invasions. The came Kenneth MacAlpin King of Pics and First King of Scots who owned the castle in 849 AD. Circa 1070 it was in the hands of the Earl of Cumbria. By circa 1200 it had become a substantial fortification and when King John attempted to take the castle in 1214 he failed. Lost to the English army of Edward I in 1296. Over the next 200 plus years the castle changed hands between the Scots and English. It was almost destroyed on several occasions and then rebuilt until in 1567. Following the Battle of Carberry Hill, the castle was destroyed by an Act of Parliament, and has been a ruin ever since.

 Dunbar Castle Dunbar Castle

Dunbar Battery

The battery was built to protect the entrance of the forth and Dunbar against attack from ships. Dunbar had been attacked on two occasions during the American War of Independence 1779 and 1781 so the battery was built. In 1914 became a hospital for wounded soldiers of the 1st World War. The roof was blown off in a storm in 1936 and demolished in 1937. Iit was renovated in 2016-17 and reopened in 2017.

 Dunbar Battery before renovations   Entrance to Dunbar Battery after renovations Battery from sea rocks

The timeline path to the Battery

 1781 The Battery is built to protect Dunbar against American Raiders.  1815 The military outpost is abandoned at the end of the wars with France. 1822 Gunfire from the Battery welcomes King George IV to Scotland. 1874 Am isolation hospital for infectious diseases is built within the walls. 1927 the hospital is converted into emergency housing. 1937 The hospital building is demolished after a storm and fire. 2017 the Battery reopens as a place for everyone to enjoy.



  The Gateway to Dunbar

Sea Cubes by Donald Urquhart | The inside of the Battery

 Sea Cubes by Donald Urquhart Inside the Battery

View of the “Long Steeple” left Next “Round Steeple” and the small group of three are “The Yetts” from the Battery.

View of the "Long Steeple" left Next "Round Steeple" and the small group of three are "The Yetts"

Robert Wilson 1803 Inventor of the Spiral Propeller

Robert Wilson as a boy developed a method to propel boats through water at speed. His idea came from windmill blades and at nine years old had propelled a boat with rotary skulls. By the age of 24 he had boats being propelled on the River Forth and the Earl of Lauderdale took his invention to the Admiralty who showed no interest. Robert Wilson was never recognised in his lifetime for his invention. Pettit Smith and Ericsson are often credited but everyone knows the truth. 

Robert Wilson Spiral Propeller

Dunbar’s Victoria Harbour | Cromwell Harbour  | Old Harbour

The first harbour in Dunbar was at the mouth of the Biel Water in 1370. Cromwell Harbour built circa 1570 is where the ships landed with supplies for Cromwell’s army after Cromwell had taken Dunbar on the 3rd September 1650. He marched on Edinburgh and took the castle with his army barracked in Holyrood. Victoria Harbour opened in 1842.

Victoria Harbour and the Old Harbour with the Battery far left.

 Victoria Harbour Dunbar Old Harbour of Dunbar

The Gate between the old Harbour and Victoria Harbour with Cromwell Harbour

 Old Harbour Gates with entrance to Victoria Harbour at high tide Old Harbour Gates with entrance to Victoria Harbour at high tide 

The Fisherman’s Monument

The Fisherman’s Monument was erected in 1856. It was dedicated to the fishermen of Dunbar and has a barometer on the front with a carrera marble carving of fisher folk at the harbour side. The monument stands at the land side of Cromwell Harbour Dunbar. The inscription reads; “Presented to the fishermen of Dunbar, to whose perilous industry the burgh owes so much of its prosperity”.  The carved relief depicts “A fisherman in his boat, while his wife points to the barometer below and begs him not to sail. In the boat an old women points to a dark cloudy sky, while two boys prepare to cast off”.

 Fishermen of Dunbar's Monument Carrera Marble carving with inscription above 

The plaque on the harbour wall reads; “O weel, may the boatie row, That wins the Bairnie’s bread !”.

Extract from “The Boatie Rows” by John Ewen (1741-1821)

 Plaque on Harbour wall

The Boatie Rows
by John Ewen 

Oh weel may the boatie row | An muckle may she speed | Weel may the boatie row | That wins oor bairnies’ breid | The boatie rows, the boatie rows, | The boatie rows fu weel, | An’ muckle luck maintain the boat, | The murlin an the creel |  We dropped oor lines in Largo Bay |  An fishes we got nine, | There’s three t’ bile an three t’ fry, | An three t’ bait the line | When Sandy, Jock and Janetie | Are up an gotten lear | They’ll help t’ gar the boatie row | An lighten a’ oor cares
Oh weel may the boatie row | That fills a heavy creel | An helps t’ clad oor bairns an’ aa | An buys oor porridge meal. 
Meanings of some words: Gar: make Lear: learning Murlin: a round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen

  Dunbar Artillery

The Gun on the hill overlooking Dunbar Harbour is a 25 Pounder Q F Mark II gun which was the type used to fire the signal at Edinburgh Castle daily at One O’clock until the 30th of November 2001. It was then changed to a more modern gun. The Dunbar gun has been on the hill as a memorial to the Second World War since 2005. The Canon from circa 1600 that helped to protect the Castle from the English.

 Old One O'clock Gun Dunbar Canon @ Dunbar Harbour

Dunbar Town House Museum

The Dunbar town house museum and gallery has a distinctive tower and clock and has been the centre of Dunbar life since circa 1530. The building previously the Tolbooth (jail and courthouse) was built in the early to mid-16th century. The building now house the museum and gallery telling the story of Dunbar back through the centuries. Outside you can see the old Mercat Cross which stood across the road. On the corner of the High Street and West Port.  There is also a statue of Dunbar’s’ famous John Muir who was born in Dunbar in 1838.

Dunbar Town House Museum

John Muir Birthplace

John Muir born 1838 died 1914 became the Father of American national parks and champion of world conservation and forever a Scot. The John Muir Way is a path stretching from coast to coast across Scotland. The route traces his steps from Dunbar on the east coast to Helensburgh on the west coast. Where he embarked on his journey to the new land (America). Follow his route from Edinburgh to Dunbar on the shores of the Firth of Forth ( Edinburgh to Prestonpans 16 km (10 miles) Prestonpans to North Berwick 25 km (16 miles) North Berwick to Dunbar 23 km (15 miles).

 John Muir Birthplace Dunbar John Muir Birthplace Plaque Dunbar

John Muir outside the Town House Museum

“Around my native town of Dunbar, I loved to wander in the fields, to hear the birds sing and along the seashore to gaze and wonder at the shells and seaweeds, eels and crabs in the pools amongst the rocks when the tide was low; and best of all to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of the Old Dunbar Castle when the sea and the sky, the waves and the clouds, were mingled together as one”.

 John Muir Statue Plaque John Muir Statue Dunbar

Lauderdale House (Dunbar House)

Dunbar House a Georgian house that stand at the end of Dunbar High Street was built (1734) by James Fall. James a wealthy merchant and Baillie of Dunbar for 8 years and member of Parliament from 1731 -1743. After his death his son Robert took charge of the family business and through bad judgement was sequestrated in 1788. This allowed the Earl of Lauderdale to take control the house and lands. The central body of the house was the original build and the two wings and central pillars were an extension to the house, which were made by the Earl of Lauderdale in 1792 and designed by Robert Adam. In 1859 taken by the Government for the Haddingtonshire Militia.

Lauderdale House Dunbar

Wesleyan Chapel Dunbar

The Wesleyan Chapel in Dunbar is the oldest methodist Church in Scotland. The Church inscription states it was erected in 1764 and that John Wesley preached her around that time. The first Methodist preacher to be appointed to Dunbar was William Ellis, in 1766.


Wesleyan Chapel Dunbar

Jubilee Fountain Dunbar

The cast iron Jubilee Fountain is to commemorate the official inauguration of a new water supply to Dunbar on 14th March 1896. The Jubilee Fountain named, due to 1897 to be Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, stood in Bayswell Park. The fountain was moved to its present position and replaced by a gas light and horse trough

  Jubilee Fountain Dunbar Jubilee Fountain Plaque Dunbar

Creel Loaders Dunbar

Creel Loaders relate to the two men that had to put the baskets (creel) on the back of the fish wives who would carry it as far as the border towns to sell the catch. This was in addition to looking after their children and cleaning the fish before selling it.

  The Creel Loaders Dunbar

Girl with Swan Statue Dunbar

The statue of a girl with a swan was unveiled in 1998 and can be found outside Lauderdale House in Dunbar.

 Girl and A Swan Dunbar

Dunbar Mercat Cross

The original mercat cross stood at the High Street junction with West Port the setts make a black cross in the road where the cross once stood. It was removed in the 18th century. Part of the present cross was discovered in the garden of a local bank. It was rebuilt with other stones and erected here in 1912 at the Town house museum.

  Dunbar Mercat Cross Dunbar Mercat Cross Plaque

Dr Thomas Reginald Badger 

Tom Badger served as a doctor with RNLI in Dunbar for 26 years and was a local GP for 30 years. Sadly he died in August 2010, and a memorial bench has been built in his memory overlooking the Victoria Harbour and Dunbar Castle. The Dunbar Lifeboat Station was Established in 1808 and has saved many lives and has had many honours bestowed upon it. A man that served his community and others for a lifetime.  

Tom Badger RNLI Doctor

Middle Longcraig Limestone White Sands and Barn Ness

The Oldest Limestone that can be seen is the flattish area of creamy coloured rock with the round hollows. Formed when the climate was tropical called “Macaroni” rock because it contained many colonial fossil corals (Lithostrotion is a genus of rugose coral which is commonly found as a fossil within Carboniferous Limestone) extinct by the end of the Palaeozoic era. The Limestone Kilns closed in 1921.

Limestone Deposits Barn Ness Dunbar

Barn Ness Lighthouse

Barn Ness Lighthouse was built by David A Stevenson (cousin to Robert Louis Stevenson) in 1900 and first illuminated in 1901 and maned until 1986, when it was completely automated. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 2005 and now is a holiday home for rent. David A Stevenson was part of the dynasty that built nearly all the lighthouses around Britain which started with his grandfather Robert Stevenson 

Stevenson's Lighthouse Barn Ness

Belhaven Brewery

Belhaven Brewery is the oldest operating brewery in Scotland. The Brewing started by the Benedictine Monks circa 800 years ago. There is a lintel on the Brewhouse with the date 1719 engraved on it. From 1719 the John Johnstone, then his heirs owned the Brewery until 1815. Then Ellis Dudgeon the husband to a Johnstone took over and the brewery traded under the name of Dudgeon & Co, a name retained for more than a 150 years. Ellis Dudgeon died in 1876 and was succeeded in turn by his son-in-law Alexander Hunter, a maltster from nearby Musselburgh. The Hunter family remained until they sold in 1972. The brewery was sold and in the following 20 years went through hard times before a management buyout in 1993. Guided by Stuart Ross it became a profitable and successful independent brewery once again. The Brewery was sold to Greene King (Founded in 1799) in 2005 and is still doing well. 

 Belhaven Brewery Dunbar

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Link to East Lothian map