The above postcard image was taken from the edge of the Lundin Ladies Golf Course looking towards Largo Law. Taken during the inter-war period, it shows a very rural scene of farm buildings, haystacks, chickens and the Keil burn. In 1995, the farm steading and mill complex was developed into a new Bett housing estate named Penrice Park (after long-standing tenants of the farm). The area was surveyed by archaeologists at the time of its redevelopment and it was concluded that the oldest buildings still standing at that time dated back to the 1830s or 1840s. Some of the old farm buildings can be seen in the background below - the foreground being the 9th green and club house of the Lundin Ladies Golf Course. This image was created by stitching together a couple of freeze frames from an old cine film taken in the early 1960s.
Back in 1863, the marriage of the Prince of Wales was celebrated in Largo "in such a manner as the oldest never saw, and the youngest will not soon forget." As well as a procession, dinner, decorations, a band, cake and wine there was a "brilliant display of fireworks" and a bonfire on Largo Law which blazed all night. The Fife Herald of 19 March went on to describe that
"...the greatest novelty in connection with the fireworks was the iron ring of a cart wheel, dressed up with canvas, well saturated with highly flammable matter, which, on a signal being given, was ignited and sent down the Law with amazing velocity, presenting one of the most brilliant spectacles ever witnessed in the shape of fireworks. As it dashed down it left behind it a train of fire several hundred yards in length, completely illuminating the west side of the hill."
It sounds brilliant and I'd have loved to have seen it, but there may be a few health and safety issues to overcome before this type of celebration is re-enacted!
During the 19th century and into the 20th century, 'Beaconmania' hit the UK, with the slightest excuse being used to light fires on top of hills. Royal birthdays, Jubilees, anniversaries or military victories all triggered beacon lighting celebrations. Examples of such occasions, where a bonfire was lit at Largo Law include:
Largo Law rises sharply to a height of around 950ft above the farmland to the North East of Lundin Links. The remains of an ancient volcano, Largo Law was once a 'beacon hill'. For thousands of years, all over the world, hill tops have been used for keeping watch and for signalling warnings with fire. Over time, beacon warning systems would have become more co-ordinated and controlled. An iron fire basket or stone built turret would have been filled with combustible material ready to blaze up when ignited.
Someone would have manned the site, watching for contiguous warning signals to be lit. The Largo Law site may have been looking towards the Lomonds or Kellie Law for signals. The word 'Lomond' means beacon or blaze of light. Sometimes codes (eg one, two or three fires) may have been used to show the level of danger or the type of action required. The beacons may also have had a role in aiding navigation at sea. Of course, such beacons were dependent upon fine weather for visibility.
Just for fun, a mock up (left) of a beacon lit on Largo Law!
More on beacons / bonfires tomorrow.
1900s view towards Lundin Links from Leven. The coastal path between the two settlements was probably a well-worn one in these days out of necessity rather than for leisure purposes. Nevertheless, on this particular day it looks like an inviting stroll alongside a calm sea and quiet links. I intend to magnify the buildings in the distance and see how many can be identified...when I get the time.
This blog is about the history of the villages of Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo in Fife, Scotland. Comments and contributions from readers are very welcome!
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