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Welcome to Dunbar

ProfileMapDunbar is located on the south-east coast of Scotland, in the traditional county of East Lothian, approximately 400 miles north of London and 28 miles east of Edinburgh.

The town has a population of around 5,000. Administratively it is within the unitary council region of East Lothian which covers an area of approximately 679 sq kms and which has a population of around 90,000.

Standing on a rocky headland just inside the Scottish border it is a peaceful resort town of sandstone buildings and broad sandy beaches, with its two harbours used by pleasure craft and fishing boats. It has a long history and retains some notable historic buildings, including the remains of Dunbar Castle, and the Town House which was formerly a prison and now houses a local history centre. Dunbar is also home to Bellhaven beers which are still made on the original site of the monks' brewery. The town is a good base from which to explore the surrounding coastline and Lammermuir Hills, and there are several excellent walks, particularly in the Belhaven area, with its broad unspoilt beaches. The West Promenade, a cliff-top walk, is part of the John Muir Trail which takes in the John Muir Country Park, the East Links children’s farm and model railway and the famous Binning Woods. Dunbar possesses two excellent golf courses, an all-year indoor swimming pool and a sports centre. Fishing trips are also available in season (March-September).

Dunbar is known to have been occupied from at least AD75, although archaeological evidence has confirmed human habitation since BC8000.  What is now known as Scotland did not in fact emerge until the 9th century; before that, the country was populated by four distinct and disparate racial and cultural groups – Britons, Picts, Scots and Angles. Dunbar was probably founded in the 1st century by the Britons (the Votadini tribe) who were expelled by the Northumbrian Angles in the 7th century, when Dunbar is first recorded as an urbs regis or royal town.  A fortified wooden enclosure existed in 856 on or near the present day site of the stone-built castle which was created in the mid-13th century. 1296 Dunbar's defenders were routed by the English under Edward I, and in 1338 the castle was heroically defended, against troops of the Earl of Salisbury, by Black Agnes, Countess of March and Dunbar, for six weeks before being relieved by allies. Then in 1650 the extremely bloody Battle of Dunbar saw Cromwell's outnumbered army defeat the Scottish Covenanters. Cromwell later awarded £300 to Dunbar towards building of the new harbour.

Historically the town's economy was based upon fishing, agriculture, brewing and lime extraction and today these old industries still survive, with the Belhaven Brewery, the Lafarge Cement Company, and Torness Power Station being important local employers. A significant sector of the workforce also commute to Edinburgh.

The name Dunbar (Gaelic: Dùn Barra) probably derives from a Brythonic name meaning 'Barr's fort'.   

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Local News
28 May 2015

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