South Queensferry Edinburgh

The Forth Bridges, Historic Sites, Attractions and the Firth of Forth

South Queensferry Edinburgh, The Crossing of the Firth of Forth by Queen Margaret in the Late 11th Century created Queensferry. Where the Forth Rail Bridge stands today over the Firth of Forth was first known for a crossing in the 11th century by Queen Margaret, as she made frequent trips to Dunfermline and St Andrews. Queen Margaret founded a ferry service to help transport religious pilgrims across the river. The crossing was so well used that small communities emerged on the south and north banks of the river, the ports were both called Queensferry and later changed to South Queensferry and North Queensferry as they are today. The ferry service was used as a passenger ferry for over eight hundred years. There are 3 established Bridges over the Firth of Forth The oldest Steel constructed cantilever rail bridge in the world, the Forth Road Bridge built in 1964 and the Queensferry Crossing opened on the 30th August 2017. The Queensferry Crossing is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.    

South Queensferry Coat of Arms

Naming of Queensferry 

Queen Margaret encouraged the making of pilgrimages to St Andrews from Edinburgh, which incurred a crossing of the Firth of Forth estuary by boat. Over time Queen Margaret had housing erected on both shores of the Forth which divides Lothian from Fife.  This allowed the poor people and pilgrims’ shelter and rest after their long journey. She also provided ships to enable the crossing in both directions for no charge. The settlements grew and were known as Queensferry later to be named North and South Queensferry as they are named today.

The Forth Rail Bridge South Queensferry Edinburgh

The forth rail bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth. It was opened on 4 March 1890. For over seventy years the Forth Bridge was the only connection across the Firth of Forth without a boat. “Painting the Forth Bridge” is a local expression for a never-ending task, as soon as the painting of the bridge was finished the work would have to start again. The Forth Rail Bridge is the oldest steel constructed cantilever railway bridge in the world. The bridge was designed by Benjamin Baker who was knighted for the work he carried out on the Forth Rail Bridge. He also was involved with the construction of the Aswan Dam.The first plans for a road crossing were made in the 1740s and were finally completed over 200 years later. 

Forth Rail Bridge South Queensferry

Inchgarvie Island (The Island Fortress) South Queensferry Edinburgh

The history of Inchgarvie Island that supports the leg of the Forth Rail Bridge goes back to 832 A.D. when Angus / Oengus mac Fergus (II) King of the Picts killed Athelstan the Anglian King in a battle in 832 AD at Athelstaneford and to warn intended invaders he put his head on a spike for all to see. A very mixed up legend as King Athelstan was born circa 895 and died at 30 years in circa 925 the first king of England but as a Scot I believe the English could not have a Pictish King kill the most popular king at the height of his reign. its easy to change dates when very few records were written. The facts we do know are that there is a site of a castle built by King James IV in 1491. The island of Inchgarvie was of strategic importance as with no bridges the island was between South and North Queensferry and was also near the Roman forts at Cramond and Bo’ness at the end of the Antonine Wall. In 1497, the island was (along with Inchkeith, a few miles away) used as an isolated refuge for victims of the contagious disease (syphilis). Between 1519 and 1671, the island was the site of a prison within the castle. In 1580, Inchgarvie and Inchkeith, was made a place of exile for the plague-stricken of Edinburgh. The leg of the Forth Rail Bridge uses it as a foundation.

Inchgarvie Island South Queensferry

Forth Road Bridge South Queensferry Edinburgh

The first plans for a road crossing were made in the 1740s and were finally completed over 200 years later. The Forth Road Bridge was opened in 04 / 09/ 1964. The Forth Road Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the Firth of Forth from the Lothians to Fife. The bridge replaced the old ferry service that was the only way to cross the river without having to travel up to the only other crossing at Kincardine. The bridge was designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson and Freeman Fox and Partners.

 Forth Road Bridge South Queensferry  Bridge Opening Stone by Queen Elizabeth II on Fife sid of the Forth Road Bridge

Queensferry Crossing Road Bridge South Queensferry Edinburgh

The last bridge to be erected is the Queensferry Crossing. The Queensferry Crossing is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world. With new technology that reduces the effect of wind on the high sided vehicles crossing the bridge.      

Queensferry Crossing South Queensferry Edinburgh

The Tolbooth South Queensferry Edinburgh

The Tolbooth is located on the High Street, as in all other burgh towns of Scotland the main building was the Tolbooth (jail). The Tolbooth would have been in place around 1630 with the present clock-tower built in 1720. There are two bells in the tower dated 1694 and 1723. The bell dated 1694 was donated by the seamen of South Queensferry. St Mary’s Church is the oldest recorded building in Queensferry dating from 1441.

Queensferry Tolbooth High Street South Queensferry

Rosebery Fountain South Queensferry Edinburgh

The wall fountain shows the coat of arms of Queensferry a blue cross and golden birds. With the arms of Rosebery a half-length Red Lion rampant holding a golden Rose dated 1817.  The inscription reads; BY THE MAGISTRATES & TOWN | COUNCIL IN GRATITUDE FOR THE | LIBERALITY AND KINDNESS OF | ARCHIBALD JOHN EARL OF ROSEBERY | PROVOST OF THIS BURGH TO WHOM | THE INHABITANTS ARE INDEBTED | FOR A BLEACHING GREEN & THIS | SUPPLY OF WATER | 1817 ​PASSAGIA REGINA  (Passing Queen) FIDE ET FIDUCIA  (by faith and confidence).     

 Rosebery Fountain High Street South Queensferry

Plewlands House South Queensferry Edinburgh

Plewlands House was built in 1641 for Samuel Wilson on his marriage to Anna Ponton. The stone engraving above the door translates to “Christ is my hope” and the letters below are the initials of the betrothed with their marriage date S.W. Samuel Wilson AP Anna Ponton 1641. This was a tradition when moving into your family home, a marriage stone would be inscribed on the wall of their house for all to see. There is an example on the wall in Ramsay Lane Edinburgh up from the New Library.

 Plewland House South Queensferry  Plewland House door with lintel marriage stone  PLEWLAND HOUSE MARRIAGE STONE


South Queensferry has been linked with whisky distilling for Over 170 years the first distillery Glenforth Distillery was built in 1828 near the harbour, to allow the ships to load and unload their cargo without a further journey to the distillery by road. Another famous name from South Queensferry is VAT 69 first bottled in 1882 by William Sanderson and Sons Leith.


on the High Street built in 1626 is the oldest surviving house in South Queensferry. When the original owner William Lawrie a sea-captain was lost at sea with his ship and crew, his house maid was accused of paying a beggar-woman to cast a spell to sink the ship, both were tried as witches and found guilty and were burnt at the stake. The Black Castle was also where in the 18th century smugglers would bring in through tunnels from the shore, barrels of contraband brandy.

 Black Castle South Queensferry     Black Castle South Queensferry


The Priory Church of St Mary was originally the Carmelite Friary. The Carmelites were invited to Queensferry by George Dundas of Dundas in 1330. Dundas Castle stands just outside South Queensferry, presently a private residence. 

priory church of st mary's carmelite church



The Binks South Queensferry is the oldest landing-place in Queensferry. This is the point where Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III would take a ferry over the Forth to Fife and return giving the area the name of Queensferry. The ferry landing place is on the west side of rocks that can be seen west of the present old harbour. You ca see the mooring rings are still in the rocks

The Hawes Inn South Queensferry Edinburgh

The Hawes Inn dates back from the 17th century and stands across from Hawes Pier and the Rail Bridge in South Queensferry. It features in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped during the Jacobite uprisings.

Hawes Inn South Queensferry

Hawes Pier South Queensferry Edinburgh

Hawes Pier is directly under the Forth Rail Bridge and is the point for boats to pick up and drop off passengers from the cruise ships and the boarding point for the Island tours. RNLI has its base here to cover the Forth Estuary. Hawes Pier has been in use since 1710.  RNLI: Is a charity that saves lives at sea. Every day of every year, people of all backgrounds get into danger in the water. Royal National Lifeboat Institution requires funds to keep people safe at sea so help by making a donation


 Hawes Inn South Queensferry   RNLI Hawes Pier South Queensferry   RNLI LIFEBOATS UK BE SAFE @ SEA

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Send a cheque, payable to Royal National Lifeboat Institution, West Quay Road, Poole, BH15 1HZ.

South Queensferry Museum South Queensferry Edinburgh

This is where the story of the construction of the Forth Bridges can be seen. There are also displays relating to the ferry passage started in the 1100s, fascinating objects and photographs and the history of the town. The Burry Man, Distilleries The Black Castle. All to be seen in the Museum at 53 High Street South Queensferry.

Queensferry Museum South Queensferry

Forth Bridge Workers Memorial South Queensferry Edinburgh

Thousands of Briggers have worked building, maintaining and restoring the bridge over its 100 plus years of history. A 7-foot-high bronze memorial stands at each end of the Rail Bridge in memory of the men who died constructing the bridge, and also to celebrate all that were involved in its completion. The Forth Rail Bridge is the oldest steel constructed bridge of its kind in the world.

Bridge Memorial South Queensferry Edinburgh



Sir Archibald Primrose 1616-1679 bought the Barony of Barnbougle and Dalmeny in 1662 which included a Castle on the shores of the river forth built circa 1250. In 1700 Sir Archibald Primrose (the first Earl) 1664-1724 was made Earl of Rosebery in 1703. Barnbougle Castle after many years became unfit to live in and Archibald the 4th Earl of Rosebery 1783-1868 had a new house built in 1817 (Dalmeny House). In 1882 the Castle was rebuilt as can be seen now and it houses a library and gallery hall where Lord Rosebery practiced his speeches when Prime Minister of Britain. Tours of Dalmeny are available in in June and July see for more detail and the family history.

Barnbougle Castle on the Dalmeny Estate view from Cramond South Queensferry Edinburgh

Hopetoun House South Queensferry Edinburgh

Lady Margaret Hamilton had the original House built in 1699 for her son Charles Hope who became the 1st Earl of Hopetoun in 1703. Hopetoun House took almost 8 years to complete and became the home of the Hope family from that day to this. In 1721 the house was refurbished and extended to what can be seen today, a magnificent ancestral home. Hopetoun House is well worth a visit for its superb interiors and 6500 acres to explore.

Hopetoun House South Queensferry

Dundas Castle Kirkliston South Queensferry Edinburgh

Dundas Castle, in Kirkliston on the outskirts of South Queensferry on Dundas Hill was built in 1424 after the 1st Duke of Albany Robert Stewart Regent of Scotland, who ruled Scotland from 1402 to 1420 due to James I being imprisoned in London granted a license to build a Keep in 1416. The original Dundas Castle or Tower is a massive 15th century keep of four floors and a flat roof. This was extended in 1436. The present Dundas Castle was extended again in 1818 as it stands now with the original Keep still standing in the left corner. Dundas Castle also served as the headquarters for protecting the Forth Bridge.  Inchgarvie Island was a gift from James IV to the Dundas family which gave them the rights to build a fortification (Castle) on the Island to protect the sea ways from invaders.Dundas Castle was also visited by both Oliver Cromwell during the period after the battle of Dunbar and the occupation of Edinburgh Castle December 1650 and the Battle of Inverkeithing, July 1651. When Cromwell became ill and his troops were based around Queensferry. Charles I visited Dundas Castle during his visit to Edinburgh in 1461 when James Dundas was Knighted by Charles I.

 Dundas Castle South Queensferry The Keep is where the Flag is and through the gate is a garden and fountain Dundas Castle Kirkliston South Queensferry

  The Burryman South Queensferry Edinburgh

The Burryman is a local man covered from head-to-toe in sticky burrs covering his entire body, leaving only the shoes, hands and two eye holes exposed. He walks around the town collecting money for charity. It is a great honour to be picked as the Burry Man as it has been a tradition for over 300 years. The event takes place once a year at the Ferry Fair. Stand face-to-face with the Burry Man in the Queensferry Museum.

Burryman Queensferry Museum exhibit

The Loon Dooks South Queensferry Edinburgh

The name is a combination of lunatic and dunk. An event held every year on the first day of the year (January 1st). Anyone can join in as all you have to do is dive into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth on New Year’s Day in whatever clothing takes your fancy. Fancy dress, swim wear or a three-piece suit, your choice. The event takes place from 9 a.m. on the beach at South Queensferry pictured left.

south queensferry beach 1st January Loon Dook takes place

Link to Cammo

Link to Jupiter Artland