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Looking at Fife, Scotland and Slavery

This is a collection of resources and weblinks that relate to Scotland and Fife’s involvement in slavery, empire and colonialism. Scotland has been described as having ‘collective amnesia’ about our relationship with transatlantic slavery. Until recently there was widespread lack of awareness of how our country and our ancestors participated. There’s much to read here and much more to discover – remember to check the origins and reliability of any source you find. We will add to this when we find new material and if you have any suggestions to add, please get in touch with LocalStudies.Kirkcaldy@onfife.com

Fife and slavery

Pictured: Greenmount, Burntisland was built by Robert Kirke, one of the last slave owners in Scotland. The house was damaged by fire and no longer stands.

Scotland and slavery

Image: Frederick Douglass

Fife and the Abolitionist movement

Image: Henry Box Brown

Fife and the economic legacies of empire, colonialism and slavery

  • During the 18th century, Fife’s linen producers in the east and north specialised in weaving osnaburg which was sold for export to British colonies. In the Atlantic plantation complex, prior to the abolition of slavery, osnaburg was the fabric most often used for slave garments.
  • So much was produced by weavers in the village of Dairsiemuir near Cupar that it was nicknamed Osnaburg – dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/osnaburg. The nickname is recorded on Ordinance Survey maps – maps.nls.uk – and in the Statistical Account of Scotland.