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Welcome to North Berwick

ProfileMapThe Royal Burgh of North Berwick is located on the south-east coast of Scotland overlooking the Firth of Forth, in the county of East Lothian, approximately 405 miles north of London and 25 miles east-north-east of Edinburgh.

The town has a population of around 6,200 (2001 census). 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. It is a charming coastal town with a small harbour and excellent sandy beaches, with two defining physical landmarks being the 613ft volcanic crag North Berwick Law, which overlooks the town, and the 315ft Bass Rock, offshore in the Firth of Forth, which is a nature reserve and nesting ground for over 100,000 gannets each summer.

The architecture of the town is mainly Victorian and Edwardian but there are some notable historic buildings, including the nearby ruins of the 14th century Tantallon Castle once home to the Earls of Angus. North Berwick and its surrounding area is noted for having some of the finest golf courses in Scotland with other primary attractions being sailing, fishing and the Scottish Seabird Centre. There is an excellent variety of shops, galleries, cafes, restaurants and leisure facilities.

The town's history dates from Norman times when a motte and bailey castle was constructed by the Earl of Fife overlooking the East Bay. The harbour has been here since then, controlled by the nunnery which was paid for by the Earl, and for many centuries a ferry carried pilgrims to Earlsferry, near Elie in Fife, on their way to St Andrews. During the 1300s the castle fell into disuse and North Berwick became a thriving market town. However the middle ages were also a period of conflict, Tantallon Castle was built at this time to resist English invaders, and later, in 1590, many local people were implicated in the infamous North Berwick Witch Trials.

It was not until the 19th century when North Berwick took advantage of its two sandy bays and was transformed into a popular holiday resort, sometimes referred to as the "Biarritz of the North", and golfing destination. In 1840 an open air swimming pool was constructed which proved very popular. Tourism is a main stay of the town's economy with both the resort and the area's numerous golf courses attracting thousands of visitors every year. With its proximity to Edinburgh, North Berwick also acts as a dormitory town for commuters who work in the capital, and this has led to a corresponding rise in housebuilding and house prices and a constantly increasing population.

The name Berwick is believed to derive from the Old English words for barley farm - 'ber' and 'wic'.

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Local News
28 May 2015

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