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Cellardyke White Houses.jpg
Houses around the harbour, Cellardyke
Grid reference: NO574037
Location: 56°13’0"N, 2°42’0"W
Local Government
Council: Fife

Cellardyke is a village in the East Neuk of Fife. The village is to the immediate east of Anstruther (the two effectively being conjoined) and is to the south of Kilrenny.


Cellardyke was formerly known as Nether Kilrenny or Sillerdyke, and the harbour as Skinfast Haven, a name which can still be found on maps today.[1][2][3] The harbour was built in the 16th century and was rebuilt in 1829–31.

The modern name of the town is thought to have evolved from 'Sillerdykes' (meaning "silverwalls"), a reference to the sun glinting off fish scales encrusted on fishing nets left to dry in the sun on the dykes around the harbour.

Cellardyke and Kilrenny were together a royal burgh from 1592, having been a burgh of regality since 1578.

Cellardyke is officially part of Kilrenny parish, and also part of the Anstruther fishing district, its fortunes fluctuating with the fishing trade.[4] The population grew quickly in the 19th century and by the 1860s Cellardyke was a thriving town, with more than fifty boat owners and skippers year round, and one hundred other captains joining in for the annual herring fishing drive or Lammas drave which took place around the Lammas festival on 1 August.[5] There was also a February surge in fishing, when shoals of herring arrived in the Firth of Forth. The fish curers of Cellardyke salted and smoked cod and herring from Anstruther as well as their own fish, sending some to London, and some as far as the West Indies.[6]

Fishing was a hazardous occupation, and over the years a number of boats from Cellardyke were lost. On 30 December 1814, a boat carrying a crew of three was lost en route to Burntisland; all three of the passengers died. On 6 April 1826 a boat was lost. Seven of the crew perished and one survived. On 28 May 1844 a boat with eight crew members was lost. Two years later, on 23 April 1846 a boat with seven crew was lost. On 3 November 1848 a boat with eight crew was lost. The next loss occurred on 10 May 1865, when a boat with eight crew disappeared. In 1910 a boat from Pittenweem sank off Cellardyke with the loss of three lives. There was one survivor.

In addition, on 1 July 1837 a boat from Cellardyke carrying people on an excursion to the Isle of May as part of a celebration for the start of the herring fishing foundered. Seventeen women and children lost their lives.

Harbour area

The harbour entrance

Like many harbours in Scotland, the fishing fleet that once occupied the harbour has been largely replaced by pleasure craft. Around 200 fishing boats were once based here but much of the fleet was destroyed by a storm in 1898, with most of those left intact relocating a short way down the coast to Anstruther. Cellardyke harbour is now home to a few small creel and pleasure boats.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Cellardyke)