Getting back to nature in Burntisland

Ian Archibald with some of the photo exhibits. Pics by Steve Brown
Ian Archibald with some of the photo exhibits. Pics by Steve Brown

Residents and visitors to Burntisland are being invited to get back to nature this summer.

The annual Burntisland Heritage Trust’s exhibition is ‘Our Natural Heritage’ and it focuses on the huge diversity of flora and fauna on the town’s doorstep and some of those who have helped in its discovery.

A wealth of information

A wealth of information

Among them is famous historical figure Mary Somerville, whose face will adorn the new Royal Bank of Scotland £10 notes next year.

She was known as the 19th century ‘Queen of Science’ and her childhood home was Burntisland where she spent most of her formative years. She was a pioneering and eminent mathematician, astronomer and geographer.

One of the most distinctive features of her work is her understanding of what we now accept as the eco–system, built up more than two centuries ago from her own observations in Burntisland.

As well as providing an enthralling and colourful attraction for visitors, the exhibition is providing a fantastic platform for some of the town and surrounding area’s talented photographers and artists.

The area's birdlife under the spotlight

The area's birdlife under the spotlight

It has been put together by Ian Archibald, chairman of the trust, who, with help from the other trustees, has worked tirelessly for months bringing it all together.

However, he is keen to stress that the exhibition has been a real community effort, with lots of input from many contributors and organisations, from the Ecology Centre and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust to a large number of individual local photographers whose stunning images form the main body of the display.

The exhibition includes a 40 panel informative display of local photography covering different zones and natural heritage aspects of the surrounding area.

There is also a static display of preserved animals and birds, alongside fossils, stones and shells and other natural artefacts to capture the imagination.

Many of the exhibits were lent by local people

Many of the exhibits were lent by local people

It takes visitors on a journey from the summit and slopes of the Binn down through the town, capturing images that illustrate fascinating and spectacular plants, birds and animals that grow and live on its doorstep.

From there it extends over the extensive foreshore of the Forth estuary before diving under the waves to explore the seabed and travelling on to Inchkeith, revealing the myriad of life that lives on the seabed and island. Inchkeith is of huge importance as a sanctuary in the spring and summer months for a variety of nesting seabirds, while in the late autumn it is the birthplace of hundreds of grey seal pups.

The exhibition also aims to raise awareness of the richness of the town’s environment and encourage efforts to maintain and protect it.

Over the years the trust has worked closely in partnership with Burntisland Primary School, and this year the senior pupils rose to the challenge, studying the town’s natural heritage.

Under the sea

Under the sea

The Curriculum for Excellence allows the children to learn through investigation and exploration, and some of their work forms part of this exhibition in a scrapbook and sketchbook collection of masks, artwork and prose, led by Burntisland-based wildlife artist Leo du Feu, who has also helped with other aspects of the display.

‘Our Natural Heritage’ will run at Burntisland Heritage Centre, 4 Kirkgate, Burntisland (just round the corner from the main door of the Burgh Chambers in the High Street).

The 10-week exhibition runs from June 18 to August 27 inclusive, and will be open on Wednesdays from 1-4pm and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-4pm.

History

This will be the 23rd annual summer exhibition staged by Burntisland Heritage Trust.

They started back in 1994 when members became involved in the search for ‘The Blessing of Burntisland’ the treasure-laden ship which was the baggage carrier of King Charles 1, which sank in the Forth during a storm in 1633.

Burntisland Primary's exhibits

Burntisland Primary's exhibits

Since then there has been an exhibition on a different local subject almost every year, with the trust building up a huge collection of archive information.

The exhibition is helped by a grant from Fife Council and sponsorship from Burntisland and Kinghorn Rotary Club, as well as the support of local printer Stuart Nicol.

The group consists of eight trustees and a ‘Friends’ group with around a dozen members who all play their part in ensuring the exhibition is able to stay open over the summer months.

“There is a huge amount of voluntary time involved in keeping this going every year, and we are extremely grateful to all who give their spare time to help out,” said Ian. “We certainly couldn’t do it without them.”