Burntisland Lighthouse is located on the West Pier of the harbour.
In the twelfth century, the Dunfermline Abbey monks owned the harbour and adjacent land. Originally known as Wester Kinghorn or Little Kinghorn the settlement grew into a little fishing village. James V bought the harbour from the abbots of the Abbey in return for a parcel of land which was granted royal burgh status. In 1586 the barony of Kinghorn was renamed Burntisland.
There are several theories about the origin of the name Burntisland. One theory is that the fishermen’s huts were burned on an area that now forms part of the docks. Another theory is that it is derived from Burnet’s Land, named after a local man.
Burntisland developed as a large port and became an important shipbuilding town. Its harbour was improved by James V in 1540.
In 1844 a new pier was built for a ferry link with Granton in Edinburgh.
The town developed as a significant port for the herring and coal trade, and by 1850 the first roll-on roll-off rail ferry service was established. The ferry service continued until the opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890.
During the Second World War, merchant ships were built within the harbour, but by 1969 the shipyard finally closed down.
The East Breakwater Lighthouse, established in 1876 continued operation until around the mid-1950s. In 1990 it was relocated to Leith close to the signal tower.
In January 2021, the West Pier Lighthouse was hit by a Russian vessel as it was leaving the harbour, and its lantern was badly damaged.