Dunbar

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(This article is about Dunbar in Scotland. There is also Dunbar, Nebraska.)


Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland.

Dunbar is a burgh located on the southeast coast of Scotland, approximately 30 miles east of the capital, Edinburgh.

Archaeological excavations in Castle Park show Dunbar to have had a settled community a few centuries BC. Believed to be synonymous with the Dynbaer of Eddius around 680AD, it was a king's vill and prison to Bishop Wilfrid. At that time it was part of the kingdom of Northumbria.

Burnt by Kenneth McAlpin in the 9th century it passed to Scotland along with Lothian in the next century. Dunbar and land in the Merse (hence March) granted to the exiled earl Gospatrick of Northumbria by Malcolm Canmore (to whom he may have been full cousin) during 1072. Gospatrick founded the family of Dunbar, earls of Dunbar and March until the 15th century.

Dunbar - High Street
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Dunbar - High Street

The town became successively a baronial burgh and royal burgh (1370) and grew slowly under the shadow of the great castle of the earls. Castle and town were contended often between Scotland and England. The former was 'impregnable' and withstood many sieges; the latter was burnt, frequently. Major battles were fought nearby in 1296 and 1650.

After the Union of the Crowns the castle was slighted (deliberately ruined) and the town flourished as an agricultural centre and fishing port. It gained a reputation as a seaside holiday and golfing resort in the 19th century, the 'bright and breezy burgh' famous for its 'bracing air'. Due to its geographical location, Dunbar receives more hours of direct sunshine per year than anywhere else in Scotland. The town is often referred to by locals as 'Sunny Dunny'. Agriculture remains important, but fishing has declined. Its main manufactures are cement at Oxwell Mains and the Scottish Ales of Belhaven Brewery. Another large local employer is Torness Nuclear Power Station. A large portion of the workforce now commute to Edinburgh or further afield.

A national census in 2001 reported the population of the town to be 6,354. However, in recent years Dunbar has been identified by the East Lothian District Council as a suitable area for increased housing development, and as a result many new houses have been built on the southern periphery of the town, increasing the population substantially.

Belhaven beach, John Muir Country Park, Dunbar, Scotland
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Belhaven beach, John Muir Country Park, Dunbar, Scotland

Dunbar is also noted as the birthplace of the explorer, naturalist and conservationist John Muir. Located to the northwest of the town is a country park named in his honour.


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