Limekilns, like its neighbour Charlestown, is a quiet and attractive village on the north shore of the River Forth. It lies a little to the west of Rosyth and the Forth Road Bridge. Its quietness is helped by being bypassed well to the north by the main road from Rosyth to the Kincardine Bridges.
It hasn't always been quite so quiet here. As early as the 1300s Limekilns, called Galletts at the time, served as the main port for the town of Dunfermline, a few miles to the north.
Early in the life of the village the importance of the local limestone became clear, both for farming improvements and for mortar for stone buildings. An industry quickly grew up using kilns fuelled by charcoal and later coal to convert lime to quicklime, which was then shipped out to the rest of eastern Scotland.
Today the only reminder of the industry in Limekilns is the name itself. From 1750 the industry moved the mile or so along the coast to Charlestown, whose vast industrial scale limekilns continued to operate until 1956 and remain today.
A sign of Limekilns' early importance is its oldest building, the King's Cellar. This is reputed to have been used as a wine cellar by royalty residing in Dunfermline. In reality it is probably more likely to have been a general warehouse associated with the original harbour, and dating back to the early 1500s.
Although it is difficult to imagine today, over its long life Limekilns has been home to a wide range of other industries as diverse as shipbuilding, soap making and brewing. For many centuries Limekilns was also the northern terminus for a ferry linking it to Bo'ness on the southern side of the Forth. This found an echo in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped": and it was from Limekilns that David Balfour and Alan Breck were carried across the Forth in a rowing boat.
From 1702 the land behind Limekilns became home to Broomhall, a mansion built by Alexander Bruce of Broomhall, the Earl of Elgin. The current house on the site was started by his descendent, Charles, the 5th Earl of Elgin in the 1760s, though work continued on improvements into the 1800s.
The family did much to shape the area around Limekilns. They replaced Limekiln's existing harbour with Bruce Haven, at the eastern end of the village, in about 1750. Its role was to export coal from the increasingly important Fife coalfields. It was also the Bruces who built Charlestown and moved the lime industry there from Limekilns.
Today's village of Limekilns occupies the low lying land between the harbour at Bruce Haven and the higher ground occupied by Broomhall. A tail extends to the west along the coastal road. Visitors are served by The Bruce Arms and The Ship; as well as by the Il Pescatore Hotel and Restaurant, all three looking out across the River Forth.
Visitor InformationView Location on Map