The hill behind Burntisland is known simply as the Binn - a volcanic plug, the name is thought to be derived from the Brythonic Bryn - hill, degraded over the years simply to Binn.
These two articles are from Scottish papers (I think the Courier and Scotsman), didn't keep a date for them but think they date from circa 2000. Relevant to the right of way:
Judges clear historic path for public
Couple lose fight to block scenic track
THE boyhood reminiscences of two pensioners and the legend of Macbeth have helped to establish a public right of way over a disputed mile-long track in the Fife countryside.
For John Wilson and John Davidson, the Bloomfield Walk was more than just a path and yesterday three judges at the Court of Session ruled against a couple living by the ancient route after they tried to bar people from using it. Two of the most important witnesses had been Mr Wilson, 78, and Mr Davidson, 76, who spoke of their childhoods in the village of Newburgh and family strolls and bramble-picking along the track. For Mr Wilson, victory in the long legal dispute came too late. He died last year, but Mr Davidson paid tribute to his friend: "If he was alive he would be having a dram tonight. He wanted me to make sure I walked this path to my dying day."
For the Stuart kings the path was a royal route from Scone Palace to their hunting lodge at Falkland. Along the way a duel had been fought in 1672 and the Thanes of Fife had claimed it as their own and erected a stone cross in honour of MacDuff, murdered by the usurper Macbeth. Taking in the panorama of Errol, the Carse of Gowrie, Dundee, Perth and the River Tay, the Bloomfield Walk at Newburgh in Fife is one of the most spectacular pathways in Scotland. For Robert and Elizabeth Nisbet, the path was a nuisance. Their house at Bloomfield, by Newburgh, lies near the middle of the route and it was their challenges to people trying to use it that led to Fife Council taking the dispute to court.
In 1997, Sheriff Kevin Breslin ruled at Cupar Sheriff Court that it had been established that a public right of way existed over the route by at least the 1920s and that the right had not been lost by non-use over 20 or more years. He said there was historical evidence that the track had been used for carts and a drover’s road. Also, it had been part of the route from the Tay ferry at Ferryfield of Carpow to Auchtermuchty. By the start of the 20th century, it had been used by pedestrians only and, as at about 1925, Sheriff Breslin added, it was regarded and used as a public right of way by the people of Newburgh. Mr and Mrs Nisbet disputed the judgment and appealed to the Court of Session where the case was heard by Lord Cullen, the Lord Justice-Clerk, sitting with Lords Coulsfield and Caplan.
In yesterday’s judgment, Lord Coulsfield said that the sheriff had relied heavily on the evidence of Mr Wilson and Mr Davidson. Mr Wilson, a retired works manager, lived in Newburgh all his life and told the sheriff that from the age of eight he regularly walked the track with his parents on a Sunday. Mr Davidson, a former maintenance engineer, said he began walking the route aged 11 when he went bramble picking with his father. "His schoolteacher and others at Newburgh had told him that it was a public road," said Lord Coulsfield. "This was his understanding and his use of the road was never challenged."
Last night Mr Davidson hailed the court’s decision: "I used to come along here as a boy to pick brambles. The whole stretch used to be covered and it was always a treat to come up and fill our faces. When I heard the Nisbets had started shutting off the track with an iron gate, John and I felt something had to be done. We spoke to the council what seems like ages ago and now it’s been in so many courts I am finally glad it’s over. When I get confirmation in black and white I will be back on the path straight away." The Nisbets attacked the ruling. When asked for her reaction, Mrs Nisbet ran from her house shouting: "It’s a disgrace, an absolute disgrace."
The path is famed locally for the Riding of the Marches, a historic walk staged every three years by three hundred locals who finish off by throwing a stick in the River Tay. The walk is set to take place again next year after worries that it might be halted for the first in history. The path runs from a mound of stones called Macduff’s Cross at Newburgh for a mile to the nearby village of Abernethy. John went on: "This one of the most beautiful walks I have ever been on and there’s no way the public should be denied access to what is their birthright. The house the Nisbets live in used to be owned by a lady called Mrs Simpson and when I was a boy sh e would welcome thirsty youngsters and walkers into her home for a strong cup of tea. I can’t see why the Nisbets can’t show the same courtesy." For John Wilson, the victory came a year too late when he passed on. A regular walker with his good friend John, the pair would meander together along the path and it was his dying wish to see that it remained open.
The judges said that there might have been a very low level of use in modern times, but it was still enough for the route to retain its right of way status. The track runs east from a point on the A913 Newburgh-Abernethy road to the unclassified Newburgh-East Lumbennie road. The mound of stones known as Macduff’s Cross marks the spot which, legend has it, the Thane of Fife passed on his way to Auchtermuchty while fleeing from Macbeth. At another point on the track, there is an ancient relic called Sir Robert’s Prap. It is said to mark the site of a duel in 1672 between two people returning from a fair in Perth.
Robert and Elizabeth Nisbet’s property at Bloomfield, by Newburgh, lies near the middle of the route. It was their challenges to people attemping to use it that led to Fife Council going to court. In 1997, Sheriff Kevin Breslin ruled at Cupar Sheriff Court that it had been established that a public right of way existed over the route by at least the 1920s and that the right had not been lost by non-use over 20 or more years. He said there was historical evidence that the track had been used for carts and a drover’s road. Also, it had been part of the route from the Tay ferry at Ferryfield of Carpow to Auchtermuchty. By the start of the 20th century, it had been used by pedestrians only and as at about 1925, Sheriff Breslin added, it was regarded and used as a public right of way by the people of Newburgh. Mr and Mrs Nisbet disputed there was a public right of way as opposed to a possible estate road, rarely if ever used by the public in modern times. They appealed to the Court of Session where the case was heard by Lord Cullen, the Lord Justice-Clerk, sitting with Lords Coulsfield and Caplan.
In yesterday’s judgment, Lord Coulsfield said the sheriff had relied heavily on the evidence of Mr Wilson and Mr Davidson. However, they were criticised by counsel for Mr and Mrs Nisbet as "shaky witnessses" with unclear and inconsistent accounts.
Mr Wilson, a retired works manager, had lived in Newburgh all his life. He had told the sheriff that at about the age of eight he regularly walked the track with his parents on a Sunday. "He stated that there were always two or three groups of people walking up the road on a Sunday," said Lord Coulsfield. "Until recent years, when Mr and Mrs Nisbet had attempted to interfere with persons using the route, no challenge had ever been made to the use of the route."
Mr Davidson, a former maintenance engineer, whose family had long been connected with Newburgh, had said he began walking the route at age 11 when he went bramble picking with his father. "His school teacher and others at Newburgh had told him that it was a public road," said Lord Coulsfield. "This was his understanding and his use of the road was never challenged...until 1983, when he retired, he would walk it every three or four years." The appeal judges were satisfied that there had been enough evidence before the sheriff for him to conclude that the route had been used by the public as of right for a long time before the 1920s. Since then, the evidence pointed to a very low level of use. However, Lord Coulsfield said: "There was some evidence of use and, in our view, the sheriff was entitled to conclude that there had never been non-use of the road for a sufficient period for the right of passage along it to be lost."
According to Canmore, this fort is presumed to be the place mentioned in the Annals of Ulster as being under siege in 683, and to have been a principal Pictish stronghold; it may have originated in the Iron Age. Certainly the eastern equivalent of Dunadd.
This post appears as part of the blog post "Stravaiging round Comrie"
I work offshore in the North Sea as a rig medic. 55+ years old. Nationalist to the core. Have been interested in ancient sites as long as I can remember, due to my Dad's interest in history. Traced my ancestry back to the 1650's. Run a website about the little Fife town I was born and brought up in, Burntisland. Run a website on Stone Circles in Angus and Perthshire. Learning Gaelic, but not very fluent so far. Spend a lot of time walking in the hills. Member of the Scottish Megaraks. Sanity often questioned....