The Star Tavern

Cross the High Street and pass the Star Tavern, built in 1671, with a traditional crow-stepped gable, and down to the path which leads up towards the railway bridge and Rossend Castle. This recently landscaped area replaced a row of shops and houses, and used to be known as Well Close.

The old Well Close (centre, archway)

The site of the Well Close, now gone

Rossend Castle

West Broomhill road leads up over the railway bridge to the Arches, the original entrance to Rossend Castle Estate, now a housing scheme where the streets are all named after former owners of the castle ; Melville Gardens, Shepherd Crescent, Rossend Terrace, Durie Park and Abbot's View. There are three coats of arms above the Archway dated 1119, 1382 and 1563. Respectively, they represent the date of the building of the earliest part of the castle; the Royal Arms of Scotland; and the date of the visit of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The arches - entrance to Rossend Castle

The coats of arms

Wander up through the park and take a good look at the Castle from here.

Rossend Castle

The Arms of the Duries of that Ilk are clearly seen above the doorway with the date 1554. The Duries were Abbots of Dunfermline and at that time were more or less lords of all they surveyed throughout the Kingdom of Fife. The one who arranged for the Coat of Arms to be installed was responsible for bringing the relics of Saint Margaret in a silver casket to be hidden there during the Reformation. He is also credited with in 1554 fixing the Arms of Queen Margaret to the east wall of the castle.
During the Reformation period the castle was in the possession of Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, who led 600 horsemen provided by the Lords of the Congregation. French troops who harried the people of Fife found Kirkcaldy a great opponent, and he prevented them from gaining any victories in this area. He was eventually appointed Governor of Edinburgh Castle, which he defended in favour of Mary, paying for his deeds by being executed in Edinburgh.

Mary, Queen of Scots

When Mary, Queen of Scots visited the castle in 1563 she was followed by Chastellard, a French poet who had been on friendly terms with the Queen. However, he came via a secret stairway and entered her bed chamber. This was the second time he had done this (previously pardoned for a similar offence at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh), and he was duly executed at Saint Andrews. Legend has it that his last words were "Adieu, most beautiful and cruel Princess".

Sir Robert Melville, who had been secretary to Mary, succeeded his father-in-law Sir William Kirkcaldy in ownership of the castle. Around 1586 when the first Provost of the town was elected, Melville took advantage of his position and forced the newly formed Town Council to bow to his wishes. Proof of this lies in a bond, signed by the Provost, bailies and council to Sir Robert Malvill of Murdocarny, by which in gratitude for his having secured ratification of their charter, they engage to aid him, his eldest son and their heirs, in all just and lawful actions to admit them as burgesses without any payment, to relieve them of all impositions levied by or upon the burgh and to allow them the first 'coff' of all merchandise brought into the port. Sir Robert's son was provost for a number of years but eventually the town survived for a number of years without a provost as they could no longer stand such a set of vultures as head of the Town Council. Sir Robert Melville Younger became a member of the Privy Council in London during the reign of James VI and I, and when James made his only visit back to his native Scotland in 1617 he visited the castle as a guest of the Melvilles.

Sir James Wemyss of Bogie was the owner of Burntisland Castle in the mid 1650's. He was anxious to obtain a title and purchased that of Lord Burntisland, as Sir Robert Melville Younger had died without issue in 1635. In 1672 he married Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Wemyss, when she was only 13 years of age. On the death of the Earl of Wemyss in 1679 Lord Burntisland's wife became the Countess of Wemyss. Her second son David succeeded to the title as third Earl of Wemyss.

In August 1957 a painted ceiling was removed from the by then derelict castle and rebuilt into a room in the Museum of Antiquities in Queen Street, Edinburgh. Just across from the castle can be seen the impressive Coach Houses, which have now been made into housing.

The Coach Houses

Walk Back