Inverkeithing (/ɪnvərˈkðɪŋ/ ; Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Chèitinn) is a coastal town, parish and historic royal burgh in Fife, Scotland, on the Firth of Forth, 9.5 miles northwest of Edinburgh and 4 miles south of Dunfermline.

Town & Royal Burgh
Clockwise from top left: Friary, Mercat Cross, Thomsoun's House, view of town, Inverkeithing Bay beach & St. Peter's Church.
Inverkeithing Town Coat of Arms
Inverkeithing is located in Fife
Location within Fife
Population4,820 (2020)[4]
OS grid referenceNT130829
• Edinburgh9 mi (14 km) S
• London340 mi (550 km) S
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townInverkeithing
Postcode districtKY11
Dialling code01383
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
56°01′54″N 3°23′50″W / 56.0318°N 3.39713°W / 56.0318; -3.39713

A town of ancient origin, Inverkeithing became an important centre of trade and pilgrimage during the Middle Ages and was granted royal burgh status by 1161.[5] The town witnessed the Battle of Inverkeithing in 1651, a major conflict in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Following the Industrial Revolution, Inverkeithing developed industries in distilling, quarrying, and ship breaking.[6]

Today, Inverkeithing town centre is a conservation area, home to 41 listed buildings, including the best-preserved medieval friary in Scotland.[7][8] Inverkeithing railway station is a main stop for trains running over the nearby Forth Rail Bridge, and the town is home to the Ferrytoll Park & Ride. Around half of Inverkeithing's workers are employed in Edinburgh or Dunfermline.[9] The town has a population of 4,820 (2020),[10] and the civil parish has a population of 8,878 (2022).[11]

Inverkeithing lies on the Fife Pilgrim Way and the Fife Coastal Path, one of Scotland's Great Trails.



The name is of Scottish Gaelic origin, Inbhir Céitein. Inbhir is a common element in place names with Celtic roots and means "confluence, inflow" (see Aber and Inver), thus "mouth of the Keithing/Céitein". The Keithing is the name of a small river or burn that runs through the southern part of the town. Simon Taylor notes that the name Keithing probably contains the Pictish (Brythonic) *coet, "wood", so the Keithing burn would have meant "stream that runs through or past or issues from woodland".[12][13] William Watson in 1910 hypothesised an etymological link between the hydronym Keithing and the Welsh cethin, "dusky" (c.f. Bryncethin).[14]


Inverkeithing Bay as viewed from the Friary Gardens.



Inverkeithing lies on the north shore of the Firth of Forth at its narrowest crossing point, about 2.5 miles from South Queensferry, 9.5 miles (15 kilometres) from Edinburgh city centre and 6 mi (10 km) from Edinburgh Airport. The nearest city is Dunfermline, 4 mi (6 km) northwest.

The Forth Rail Bridge, linking Inverkeithing to the City of Edinburgh by rail.

Topographically, Inverkeithing is situated on a raised terrace sloping down towards Inverkeithing Bay, which cuts in to the south of the town, separating it from the North Queensferry peninsula. There are views from the town centre across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat, and the Pentland Hills.

The town is bounded to the south by the North Queensferry peninsula and to the east by Inverkeithing Bay and Letham Hill.[15] Its medieval centre lay along High Street and Church Street, but the town has since expanded to encompass areas to the north, east, and west. Modern Inverkeithing is almost contiguous with the neighbouring settlements of North Queensferry, Rosyth and Dalgety Bay.

The Keithing Burn flows from forest plantations to the northeast of the town between Dalgety Bay and Aberdour, past the railway junction, before falling into the Inner Bay of Inverkeithing Bay 14 mi (400 m) south of the town centre.[16]

Inverkeithing Bay Beach on Fife Coastal Path, Inverkeithing.



Inverkeithing lies on the Fife Coastal Path, a long-distance footpath designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails. Coming from North Queensferry, the path winds around the Inner Bay, through Inverkeithing proper, and past the Ballast Bank public park towards Dalgety Bay.[17] The Fife Pilgrim Way also passes through Inverkeithing.

Rising from the Inverkeithing stretch of Fife Coastal Path is Letham Hill Wood, a strip of broadleaved woodland 1.5km long, forming a hilly barrier between Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay popular with walkers and mountain bikers.[18] The approach to the hill passes Prestonhill Quarry, which has high cliffs of igneous and metamorphic rock and native species of fish in the resulting quarry water pools.[19] Inverkeithing has two sandy beaches: Inverkeithing Bay Beach located off the Fife Coastal Path, and another located on the south shore of Inverkeithing's inner bay. Inverkeithing Bay Beach has a mean tidal range of approximately 4.9 meters.[20]

Inverkeithing (centre) within the Firth of Forth.



Inverkeithing follows a temperate maritime climate, with weather data very similar to nearby Edinburgh, albeit with slightly warmer summers.[21]

Climate data for Inverkeithing (20 m asl, averages 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 67.5
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 12.5 9.4 9.9 8.8 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.7 10.2 12.4 11.2 11.4 124.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 53.5 78.5 114.8 144.6 188.4 165.9 172.2 161.5 128.8 101.2 71.0 46.2 1,426.6
Source: Met Office[22]



Roman period


Inverkeithing has ancient origins: there is some evidence that during the Roman conquest of Britain, Roman governor Agricola established an encampment in the area between AD 78–87 during his war against the Caledonians.[5] By AD 142, when construction on the Antonine Wall began on the southern shores of the River Forth, it is likely any Roman settlement ended.[23]

Medieval period


The town's early history is tied to the founding of a church by a holy man named St Erat, supposedly a follower of St Ninian. Local tradition (recorded in a plaque on the parish church) holds that St Erat founded a church in Inverkeithing in the 5th century, but he might be identical to a "St Theriot" venerated in nearby Fordell, who is thought to have lived in the 8th century. Because the first written references to St Erat come from the 16th century, they do not provide hard evidence for Inverkeithing's early history, or even for the existence of the saint.[24]

Inverkeithing is first documented in 1114, when it is mentioned in the foundation charter of Scone Abbey granted by King Alexander I.[25][26] In 1163 it appears—as "Innirkeithin"—in Pope Alexander III's summons of the clergy of the British Isles to the Council of Tours.[27] Inverkeithing was made one of Fife's first royal burghs—which brought with it legal and trading privileges—in the 12th century.[28][29] While the precise date is unknown, its burgh status may have been bestowed during the reign of David I,[30] and it is mentioned as an existing burgh as early as 1161 by Malcolm IV.[31] The settlement was an obvious choice to be created a burgh, as its location at the narrowest crossing point of the Firth of Forth and its sheltered bay were both strategically important.[5]

One of the earliest accounts of life in Inverkeithing comes from the 14th-century Lanercost Chronicle. At Easter 1282, the Chronicle relates, the parish priest of Inverkeithing had "revived the profane rites of Priapus, collecting young girls from the villages, and compelling them to dance in circles to the honour of Father Bacchus, [...] singing and dancing himself and stirring them to lust by filthy language." When the priest exhibited similar behaviour during Lent, a scandalised citizen stabbed him to death.[32]

Statue of King Alexander III on St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

The town was the last place that King Alexander III was seen before he died on 19 March 1286. The King had crossed the Forth from Dalmeny in a storm to pay a birthday visit to Queen Yolande, who was staying in Kinghorn. On arriving in Inverkeithing, the party was met by one of the burgesses of the town, Alexander Le Saucier (whose name indicates he was either linked to the King's kitchen, or the master of the local saltpans), who tried to convince the King to stay the night.[33] However, the pleas fell on deaf ears, and Alexander set off into the rainy night with two local guides.[34] The group lost its way near Kinghorn and got separated from the King, who was found dead at the bottom of a steep embankment on the next day, having presumably fallen from his horse.[35]

Edward I ("Longshanks") stayed in Inverkeithing on 2 March 1304 on his return to Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence. This is evidenced by letters written here as he made his way from Dunfermline to St Andrews.[36]

Throughout much of the Middle Ages, Inverkeithing was an important resting place and staging post for pilgrims. Travelers on their way to the shrines of Saint Margaret in Dunfermline and Saint Andrew in St Andrews would often stop in the town after crossing the Firth of Forth via the Queen's Ferry.[19] A hostel for pilgrims in Inverkeithing is documented as a possession of Dryburgh Abbey as early as 1196.[19] A Franciscan friary was established in Inverkeithing in the mid-14th century, which was also intended to serve religious travelers. It is one of the few remnants of a house of the Greyfriars to have survived in Scotland.[5] Due to Inverkeithing's importance for medieval pilgrims, it is one of the towns along the Fife Pilgrim Way established in 2019.[37]

In 1487, an Act of Parliament during the reign of James III specified that the Convention of Royal Burghs would be held annually in Inverkeithing.[30][29] Evolving in parallel to the Parliament of Scotland, the Convention was an important representative assembly of trading towns. While the Act specified Inverkeithing as the host, it is unclear how many meetings were held there before the Convention moved to Edinburgh in 1552.[30]

Post-medieval period


16th century

Thomsoun's House from 1617

In November 1504 there was a plague scare at Dunfermline Palace, and four African women with John Mosman, the court apothecary, came to stay in Inverkeithing before crossing to South Queensferry.[38]

Inverkeithing was one of the few Scottish burghs to have four stone gates—known as "ports"—around its medieval settlement. Stone walls were added in 1557, the last remains of which can still be found on the south side of Roman Road. Until that time, Inverkeithing enjoyed a successful trade in wool, fleece and hides, and served as a hub of commerce for Fife. The town's flourishing was evidenced by its weekly markets and five annual fairs.[5]

17th century


However, trade had begun to decrease by the 16th century, and Inverkeithing slowly became poorer than its neighbouring settlements. Due to political and social instability, caused by both plague and war, this downward trend continued in the 17th century. In 1654, Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu mentions Inverkeithing as "formerly a flourishing market" in his Nova Fifae Descriptio.[39]

Inverkeithing was a hotbed for witch trials in the 17th century. In 1621 six local women were tried for witchcraft in the Tolbooth.[40] Between 1621 and 1652, at least 51 people were executed for witchcraft in Inverkeithing, an unusually large number for a town of this size; the much larger Kirkcaldy only saw 18 executions in the same period.[41] The reason is believed to be a combination of cholera outbreaks, famine, and the appointment of Rev. Walter Bruce—a known witch hunter—as minister of St Peter's.[42] Bruce also played a pivotal role in initiating the so-called Great Scottish witch hunt of 1649–50. The executions were carried out at Witch Knowe to the south of town, which today is partially within Hope Street Cemetery.[42][43]

Clan MacLean memorial cairn at Pitreavie

On 20 July 1651, the Battle of Inverkeithing was fought on two sites in the area, one north of the town close to Pitreavie Castle, the other to the south on and around the peninsula of North Queensferry and the isthmus connecting it to Inverkeithing. The battle took place during Oliver Cromwell's invasion of the Kingdom of Scotland following the Third English Civil War. It was an attempt by the English Parliamentarian forces to outflank the army of Scottish Covenanters loyal to Charles II at Stirling and get access to the north of Scotland.[44] This was the last major engagement of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and led to Scotland passing into Cromwell's control. Cromwell's 4,500 troops defeated a Scottish force of roughly equal size, forcing the Covenanters to abandon Stirling and march south to support Charles II. Of the estimated 800 MacLean clansmen who fought in the battle, only 35 were said to have survived, although Covenanter officer Sir James Balfour estimated the clan's losses at around 100.[45] An apocryphal account states that the Pinkerton Burn ran red with blood for three days afterwards. This was a significant episode in the history of Clan MacLean, and the 20th century poet Sorley MacLean mentions Inverkeithing in one of his poems.

18th century


Daniel Defoe, writing of Inverkeithing in his Tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain in 1724, found the town to be "still populous, but decayed, as to what it has formerly been".[46] Defoe also relates that Inverkeithing had briefly become known in England in the early 1700s for a crime of passion in which Robert Balfour, 5th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, murdered an Inverkeithing schoolmaster who had married a woman Balfour loved—the nobleman was later sentenced to death, but escaped captivity by exchanging clothes with his sister.[47] Defoe's sentiments about Inverkeithing were echoed by Sir William Burrell when he toured Scotland in 1758, who found it a "mean, miserable, paultry town, teaching us what to expect from its neighbouring villages".[48] At the time, the parish had a population of over 2,200,[36] and industry had become both smaller in scale and more diverse. Lead and coal were mined, with coal being exported in substantial quantities. There was an iron foundry and, by the late 18th century, the town had a brewery, tan works, soap works, a salt pan and timber works.[5] A whisky distillery, using the water of Keithing Burn, was opened in 1795, and operated until the mid-19th century.[49] Its buildings, near the railway line in Keith Place, were later used for oil works.[50] The importance of fishing declined in line with increasing industrialisation and, by 1891, Inverkeithing only had 14 resident fishermen.[51]

19th century


In 1821, merchant and politician Sir Robert Preston directed the development of Preston Crescent, a new road to the south of the town on the banks of the Inner Bay. Alongside a small stone bridge (today a C-listed building), a number of plain classical houses were built to accommodate retired sea captains, with most of the buildings surviving to this day.[52] Nearby Preston Hill is also named for Sir Robert, who erected a flagpole there intended to aid marine traffic.[53]

Mauretania 2 arriving at Thos. W. Ward

By the mid-19th century quarrying, engineering and shipbuilding were major industries in the area and, in 1831, the population increased by over 600 in a decade, due to an influx of labourers employed in greenstone quarries. The quarries provided material for major works, such as the extension of Leith Pier and some of the piers of the Forth Bridge.[36] By 1870, engineering and shipbuilding had largely ceased, and the harbour lost freight traffic to the railways. As a result, Inverkeithing was no longer on a through route for freight. The opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890, however, led to another surge in population and new building. By 1925, quarrying remained a major operation and, whilst the saltworks, iron foundry and sawmill had closed, a papermaking industry had developed at the harbour.[5] Caldwell's paper mill would remain in operation until 2003, with the factory being demolished in 2012.[54]

20th century onwards


At the beginning of the 20th century, Inverkeithing became known for its shipbreaking at Thos. W. Ward's yard on the Inner Bay.[55] Among others, the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought was dismantled there in 1923,[56] as was the hull of the Titanic's sister ship RMS Olympic in 1937,[57] the Nazi Party cruise ship Robert Ley in 1947,[58] and the second RMS Mauretania in 1966. Today, the yard is a metal recycling facility.[59][60]

Places of interest


Historic landmarks


Inverkeithing is home to 55 listed buildings, including 6 of category A;[61] the highest possible level of classification for "buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic; or fine, little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type".[62] The heart of the medieval town was located around High Street, Bank Street, Townhall Street, and Church Street.[63][29]

St. Peter's Church

St Peter's Kirk

The B-listed parish church of St. Peter stands in its large churchyard on the east side of Church Street. The church was founded by Waltheof of Allerdale, son of Gospatrick, as a wooden Celtic church before being adapted into a Norman stone structure, which was bequeathed by the monks of Dunfermline Abbey in 1139.[63] The Norman foundations were reused for the 13th century Gothic structure, and a tower was added in the 14th century. In pre-Reformation times the church had altars to St. Michael, the Holy Blood, John the Baptist, St. Catherine, the Holy Rood, St. Laurence, St. Ninian and St. Mary. In 1611 it absorbed the adjacent parish of Rosyth.

Extensive fire damage in 1825 reduced it to the height of its lower window sills, although the tower survived, but it was rebuilt.[63][64] The main part of the church is thus a large plain neo-Gothic 'preaching box' of 1826–27, designed by James Gillespie Graham.[65] Built of soft sandstone, the tower—the only remaining part of the pre-Reformation church—is very weathered, and has been partially refaced. The tower is crowned by a lead-covered spire from 1835 designed by Thomas Bonnar, whose elaborate gabled dormers saw clock faces being added in 1883.[66]

The church's roomy interior—now deprived of its galleries—is graced by one of the finest medieval furnishings to survive in any Scottish parish church. This is the large and well-preserved sandstone font of around 1398, which was rediscovered buried under the church, having been concealed at the Reformation. Its octagonal bowl is decorated with angels holding heraldic shields.[66] These include the royal arms of the King of Scots, and of Queen Anabella Drummond, the consort of King Robert III. The high quality of the carving is explained by it being a royal gift to the parish church, Inverkeithing being a favourite residence of Queen Anabella. Most of the interior visible today was designed by Peter MacGregor Chalmers and dates from 1900.[65] Notable ministers include Robert Roche (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1613) and witch hunter Walter Bruce, who served the unique church role of 'Constant Moderator' from 1662 until 1673.

Hospitium of the Grey Friars

Hospitium of the Grey Friars

On the High Street lies one of the best surviving examples of a friary building in Scotland, the category-A listed Hospitium of the Grey Friars (also known as the Franciscan order).[67] The friary could date from the late 13th century, with a charter in 1268 mentioning the building of a church and convent for the Franciscans.[19] It may have been founded by Philip Mowbray, Lord of Barnbougle on the opposite shore of the Forth.[29] There are no further mentions of the friary until 1384, but at the time, it would have been a thriving hub for pilgrims to Dunfermline and St Andrews, comprising accommodations, cloisters, storage cellars, and a chapel.[19] The friary was sold to a private buyer in 1559 during the Scottish Reformation and remodeled into a tenement.

The hospitium visible today once formed the west end of the friary, and it was the only building preserved during the 16th-century alterations, while the rest of the complex was used as a quarry.[19][66] An antiquarian renovation in 1932–1935 restored the 14th-century details for which there was evidence, and otherwise retained the 17th-century finishes. The building was originally cruciform, but only its central part remains, including several tunnel vaults formerly used for storage.[68][67] The foundations of the north range of the complex, together with a well and several cellars, can be seen in the public gardens next to the hospitium.[19] The building is now mainly used as a community centre.

Mercat Cross

Inverkeithing Mercat Cross


Inverkeithing contains one of the oldest and finest remaining examples of a mercat cross in Scotland, dating from 1389.[63][69] The cross, a category-A listed historic monument,[70] is believed to have been built as a memorial of the marriage between the Duke of Rothesay and the daughter of the Earl of Douglas.[63] Originally, the cross stood on the north end of the High Street, before moving to face the Tolbooth and then to its present site at the junction between Bank Street and High Street, further up the road.[63][71][72] As of 2021, there are plans to move it to a more prominent position in the Market Square, as part of a £3.6 million, five-year programme of improvements to the town centre.[73] The core of the mercat cross is thought to date from the late 14th century, with the octagonal shaft from the 16th century.[63][71] Two of the shields on the cross bear the arms of Queen Anabella Drummond and the Douglas family.[63] Later, a unicorn and a shield depicting the St Andrew's Cross were added in 1688, the work of John Boyd of South Queensferry.[63][72]

Inverkeithing Town House

Inverkeithing Town House


On Townhall Street is the A-listed Inverkeithing Town House (also known as the Tolbooth), which displays the old town coat of arms above the front door.[63][71] The Renaissance tower, at the western end of the building, is the oldest part of the tolbooth, dating from 1755.[72] A three-storey classical building followed in 1770 as a replacement for the previous tolbooth.[72] The building featured a prison or 'black hole' on the ground floor, the court room on the middle and the debtors' prison on the top.[72] The building was fully renovated and remodeled for community use from 2022 to 2024.[74]

Other historic landmarks

Thomsoun's House, Bank Street, Inverkeithing.

The Burgh Arms Hotel and Pub dates to 1664 with an extension from 1888, making it one of the oldest pubs in East Scotland. The pub is a category-C listed historic building and is still in operation.[75]

Fordell's Lodging is opposite St Peter's Church and is an A-listed L-plan tower house which dates from 1671 and was built by Sir John Henderson of Fordell.[63] On King Street is the much altered B-listed Rosebery House, once owned by the Rosebery family,[63] and possibly the oldest surviving house in the burgh.[76] The unusual monopitch lean-to roof is locally known as a 'toofall', and dates the house to no later than the early 16th century.[76] It was owned by the Earl of Dunbar before being purchased by the Earl of Rosebery.[63]

Inverkeithing Harbour is a historic B-Listed narrow rubble-built harbour at the point where Keithing Burn debouches into Inverkeithing Bay. The harbour was first recorded in 1587, and was a probable landing place for the Queensferry passage during the 12th century. It was the terminus of the 18th century Halbeath Waggon Way.[77] The Keithing Burn enters the head of harbour through square bull-faced rubble sluice installed 1840 (with later brick repairs). A 20th century metal footbridge runs over the sluice.

Inverkeithing Railway Station East Block.

Inverkeithing Railway Station dates from 1877, and was significantly expanded in 1890 as a dual track railway following the completion of the nearby Forth Rail Bridge. The East Block is original, and now forms a large waiting block, and is category B listed by Historic Scotland.[78] Part of the Railway's infrastructure includes tunnelling under Boreland Road Bridge at the immediate south exit from the station, built in the late 18th century to span over the river Keithing for the original Halbeath Waggon Railway (now category-B listed).[79] The Waggon Way, opened in 1783, is now used as a footpath.[79]

Moffat Cottage on Heriot Street was the home of missionary Robert Moffat, father-in-law of Victorian explorer David Livingstone.[80] Information from local sources and a commemorative plaque indicate that Livingstone occasionally stayed at the cottage, including after his first return to Britain during 1856/57; he also may have built the summerhouse.[81] Today the cottage is a category-C Listed building.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church, dated 1908, is a classic example of Edwardian church design, built to accommodate the growing number of episcopal residents following the church's re-establishment in Edinburgh in 1878.[82] The church lies at the southern end of the town, and is a category-C listed historic building.[83]

Thomsoun's House is located on Bank Street, between numbers 2–4, dates from 1617, and was reconstructed in 1965. Its carved sandstone pediment includes thistle-shaped finials and the initials of the first owners John Thomson ("I.T.") and Bessie Thomsoun ("B.T.").[71][84]

Parks and gardens

Trees at Ballast Bank public park.

Ballast Bank is Inverkeithing's largest public park. Located on the shore of the Inner Bay next to Inverkeithing harbour, the park features a public athletics track, children's playpark and skatepark. The park is home to Inverkeithing Hillend Swifts football club,[85] and hosts the Ballast Bank Community Centre run by Fife Council.[86]

Inverkeithing Friary Gardens are publicly accessible and located behind the Friary. They provide views across the Forth towards Edinburgh. Just off the Friary gardens sits Inverkeithing Community Gardens. Inverkeithing War Memorial Gardens is a small garden in the intersection of Church street and Heriot Street. The gardens feature a memorial for those lost in the First and Second World Wars, and also host the annual remembrance day processions. Witchknowe Park in the south of the town is an open field with benches looking south. Its name originates from its role in the execution of persons accused of witchcraft in the 17th century.[87]

Inverkeithing War Memorial Gardens, Church St.

Inverkeithing is home to cemeteries at Hope Street Cemetery, which features Commonwealth War Graves, as well as Inverkeithing St Peters Kirkyard, no longer in use and with graves dating back to 1606.[88]



Inverkeithing Bay Beach is a sandy beach located adjacent to the Fife Coastal Path is it runs past Inverkeithing town towards Dalgety Bay.[89] The beach has a mean tidal range of approximately 4.9 meters.[20] Inverkeithing Inner Bay Beach is a small sandy beach located off Cruickness Road, and is accessible by car. It overlooks the harbour and town.[90]

Other places of interest

Prestonhill former quarry just off Fife Coastal Path, Inverkeithing.

Inverkeithing Civic Centre and Library is a large public venue on Queen Street with a library, computer use area, café, public toilets, council information desk and a small museum.[91]

Letham Hill Wood is a 1.5km-long strip of broadleaved woodland forming a hilly barrier between Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay, which is popular with walkers and mountain bikers[18]

Prestonhill Quarry is a former quarry filled with water with steep cliffs. The quarry is popular for fishing, diving, kayak and open water swimming and other leisure use.[92] Fife council have warned those entering the water to be careful and responsible.[93]

The Fife Coastal Path is a long-distance footpath designated as one of Scotland's Great Trails, which runs through Inverkeithing. Coming from North Queensferry, the path winds around the Inner Bay, through Inverkeithing proper, and past the Ballast Bank public park towards Dalgety Bay.[17]



Inverkeithing forms part of the Dunfermline and West Fife Westminster constituency, as of 2023 held by Douglas Chapman MP for the Scottish National Party (SNP).[94] For the Scottish Parliament Inverkeithing forms part of the Cowdenbeath constituency[95] which falls within the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region. As of 2023, the constituency is represented by Annabelle Ewing, also of the SNP.[96]

Fife Council is the local authority for Inverkeithing, which is part of the Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay (ward).

Inverkeithing Community Council handles local town matters, and is currently chaired by Helen Doig. Community Councils are voluntary organisations that act as a voice for their local area and are independent of Fife Council. They shape local priorities through their involvement in community planning partnership groups, and meet regularly to discuss issues affecting their area, including planning and licensing applications. All meetings are held in public and residents are encouraged to attend their local meeting.[97]



Inverkeithing is known as a commuter town of both Edinburgh and Dunfermline; of Inverkeithing's workforce of 2,000 people, over 550 work in Edinburgh and over 400 work in Dunfermline (2022).[9] The town is demographically very mixed, with an especially wide range of residents with professional and nonprofessional jobs, part-time and self-employment, and high and low educational attainment.[98]

Town centre

Part of Inverkeithing High Street, looking north.

Inverkeithing town centre provides the local area with a variety of services including a Post Office,[99] a Scotmid supermarket,[100] pharmacies, bakeries, pubs, restaurants, and hairdressers. In 2022, Inverkeithing had the lowest number of vacant shops among all Fife town centres.[101]

Other economic activity


A mile away from Inverkeithing town centre but within its administrative boundary is Belleknowes Industrial Estate, which as of 2024 houses 27 companies including several autocare and DIY stores.[102] On the former Thos. W. Ward shipbreaking site on the south side of Inverkeithing Bay lies Robertsons Metals, which deals in, and exports, recycled metal.[103]


Edinburgh Waverley railway station, where many of Inverkeithing's Scotrail services terminate.

Inverkeithing railway station is a main stop for the following services:[104]

Ferrytoll Park and Ride at the foot of the Forth Road Bridge.

Passengers en route to Edinburgh travel across the Forth Bridge.

The town is served by regular direct bus services by Stagecoach and Bay Travel to Edinburgh, Edinburgh airport, and much of Fife. Inverkeithing and its surroundings are also served by the Ferrytoll Park & Ride to the south of the town,[105] which provides car parking and access to bus services to Edinburgh city centre, Edinburgh Airport, Livingston, South Gyle, other parts of Fife, as well as links to the Scottish Citylink coach network.

Inverkeithing is bypassed by the M90 motorway, accessed at the south of the town via Hope Street and at the north of the town via the A921, which links Fife to Lothian and Edinburgh via the Queensferry Crossing. Cycling commuters travelling south to Edinburgh cross the Forth Road Bridge, which is open exclusively to cyclists, walking and public transport.[106]

Major unrestricted public car parks in Inverkeithing include Ferrytoll Park and Ride free car park; King Street free car park and Belleknowes free car park for the train station; and Hope Street free car park, Queen Street free car park and Chapel Place car park.[107]

Sport and community




Inverkeithing United was hosted in the town from 1906 to 1963, winners of the Scottish Junior Cup in 1912–13. The team were reformed as a community football club in early 2017, and currently play as an SFA Quality Marked accredited community football club, with a community based football pathway from U5's to U17's.[108]

Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, founded in 1996, entered their senior team into the pyramid in 2018 and currently compete in the East of Scotland League First Division.[109] The club played at Ballast Bank on the Inner Bay until 2021, when the home games were moved to Dalgety Bay; the condition of the grounds at Inverkeithing would otherwise prevent promotion to the Lowland League.[110]



Inverkeithing Bowling Club was founded in 1901, and is located at Alma Street. The club was one of the first Bowling Clubs in Scotland to admit female players starting 1919, and has produced Scottish national players at the British Isles Championships and Scottish triples winners.[111]

Inverkeithing Highland Games

Aerial view over Ballast Bank Park, Inverkeithing, from the Friary Gardens, Inverkeithing.

The Ballast Bank grounds also play host to Inverkeithing's annual highland games, which have been staged here since at least 1914, and in the town since 1646,[112] and which draw crowds of up to 5000 spectators.[113] In 2014, the Inverkeithing Highland Games were featured in season 7, episode 1 of the US television show Duck Dynasty, in which cast members participated in some of the events.[114] In conjunction with the games, the town hosts its annual Lammas Fair Celebrations, which traditionally celebrates the first harvest of the year and involves market stalls and a funfair. The fair was described in the Inverkeithing Burgh records of 1648 as "a great day for fun, frolic, fit races, ale and drunken folks, gentle and simple".[112]



Inverkeithing has four active places of worship: Inverkeithing St Peters Parish Church (Church of Scotland) on Church Street,[115] Saint Peter in Chains (Catholic Church) on Hope Street,[116] St Peters Church (Episcopal Church) on Hope Street[117] and Inverkeithing Baptist Church (Baptist Church) on Church Street.[118]

Community venues


Inverkeithing High School Community Use offer sports, leisure and adult education classes. The centre offers classes for children including swimming lessons, football, and creative arts, as well as for adults including painting, yoga, and swimming.[119]

Inverkeithing Civic Centre, Queen Street.

Inverkeithing Civic Centre and Library is a large public venue on Queen Street with a library, computer use area, café, and council information desk. The Centre also offers indoor sports and senior table tennis, yoga, and table tennis, in addition to children's birthday parties and meetings.[91]

Ballast Bank Community Centre offers activities for all age groups, and individuals, clubs and organisations can hire the facilities for birthday parties and some indoor sports.[120]



Inverkeithing Community Gardens is a community project run by volunteers. The group provides opportunities for horticultural therapy, social contact and producing crops. The gardens features an orchard.[121] Inverkeithing Hope Street Allotments is a large south facing community allotments run by Fife Council.[122]

Other community groups


The Inverkeithing Trust is a non-profit charity run by local volunteers that aims to help build a strong, vibrant community in Inverkeithing. Events organised by the trust include an annual garden competition and flower show.[123] The 68th (Fife) Scouts group occupy BP Hall on Hope Street, and caters to children aged 4 to 14.[124] The Freemason Lodge St John 60 was constituted in 1754, and is now located on Hope Street; the lodge is occasionally used as a public meeting place.[125]

Education and services

Inverkeithing High School from its playing fields.

The town is served by Inverkeithing Primary School and Inverkeithing High School, both located on Hillend Road to the northeast of the town centre. The high school's catchment area includes most of the surrounding towns such as Dalgety Bay, Rosyth, and North Queensferry, resulting in a school population of over 1,500.[126] Post high school education can take place at Fife College's nearby Rosyth campus.[127] The nearest universities to Inverkeithing are Herriot Watt and the University of Edinburgh.

The original primary school—a C-listed building from 1894, located behind Fordell's Lodging—was destroyed by a fire in 2018, after having been disused for a number of years.[128] As of late 2023, plans for the primary school site are still being developed.[129]

For healthcare, Inverkeithing is served by Inverkeithing Medical Centre, an NHS practice.[130] The nearest A&E services are at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline or the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

For police services, the nearest Police Scotland station is Dalgety Bay police station at Regents Way, Dalgety Bay.[131] For fire services, Dunfermline Fire Station or South Queensferry fire station.[132]

Notable residents

Anabella Drummond, Queen of Scotland

This list contains famous or notable people who were either born, residents, or otherwise closely associated with Inverkeithing, Scotland.

Royalty and religion

David Livingstone, missionary and explorer

Military and politics


Science, engineering and exploration

  • Sir Duncan McDonald CBE FRSE (1921–1997), engineer and industrialist, developer of Britain's first 275,000 volt transformer for the National Grid.
  • Robert Moffat (1795–1883), missionary to Africa, the first man to translate the bible into an African language, and father-in-law of explorer David Livingstone.[135][80]
Stephen Hendry, multiple World Snooker Championship winner





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