The History of Pan Ha'

Pan Ha' c. 1890

The houses of Pan Ha' are the stone replacements of a succession of rude dwellings of wood or turf which in the past have sheltered the fishers, the colliers, and the salters. In the early 15th century the export of fish was an important factor in the nations economy, and rules regarding the salting and barrelling of herrings were drawn up by the Scots Parliament regulating the size and construction of barrels. The kind of salt that was to be used was also prescribed.
The production of salt was a flourishing industry for many centuries on both sides of the Forth, establishing itself where ever coal and salt were readily available, heat being necessary to evaporate sea water contained in the iron salt pans. Dysart's share in salt production is perpetuated in the nickname, the Saut Burgh.
The name Pan Ha', like that of Prestonpans, suggests a group of steaming saltpans set up on a level piece of ground, or "haugh", each pan with its two attendant salters, who, like the colliers, were bondsmen or slaves, just as much the property of the barons Sinclair as the saltpans or the coal heughs themselves.

The Scotsman [3rd December 1965] "Plans to restore a group of old houses in Dysart, Fife - the oldest dating back to the sixteenth century - were announced yesterday. The Crown Commissioners have agreed in principle to undertake the work under a joint scheme - the first of its kind - with Kirkcaldy Town Council and the National Trust for Scotland."

So began the most modern chapter in the life of a group of properties that can trace their ancestry back over 420 years. Situated in what King James VI called "the golden fringe of Fife" these houses are of outstanding historical and architectural interest.
Original estimates of the cost of renovations totalled 50,000, the intention to provide 10 houses with expected annual rental incomes of 300 to 400.
By April 1968 work had still not started on the project. Reasons cited for the delay included rising building costs which rendered the original plans uneconomic. By adding a group of 5 new houses to the site it was possible to make the scheme financially practical, although estimated costs had now risen to 95,000.


By May 1969 restoration work had continued apace, and was nearing completion. On the 16th October 1969 the restoration project paused for an official opening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

By March 1970 work had still to complete on the final building in the restoration scheme, the sixteenth century Bay Horse Inn. Work was possibly delayed with the discovery by workmen of Tempera-painted ceilings and other details of architectural interest. Of the ten other houses in the scheme, only three were occupied at this time.