All that I
know about the Dome Park I learned when I was a small boy from
elderly people in the village. No doubt they were passing on what
had been told to them when they were of a similar age. Much of the
information as to Earlsferry
happenings of long ago has never been written down.
The Dome Park
is a circular piece of ground that's located just above the high
water mark at the very west end of Earlsferry.
Nothing grows there but rough sea tolerant bent grasses but many
families of bunny rabbits make the place their home. On the
south side the park is contained by the shoreline of the sea, on the
east by an outcropping of rock, on the west by the
Lunder Law and on the north side by a high and curving
man-made stone wall. At the west end of this wall is a pair of stone
pillars that, until World War II, supported a heavy wrought iron
gate. On the higher level to the north of the wall is an old roadway
where observers can see over the wall and into the park. This
roadway goes on around and connects to the West Sea road.
The Dome Park
is an enigma, a mystery. At some point in the past the park must
have been created for some specific purpose. While it's called
a park it's never in my time been used like a park. Facing south
it's a sheltered pleasant sunny place. What was the purpose
for the massive stone gateway pillars and the heavy wrought iron
I was a boy this is what was told to me about the Dome Park. The
name is a misnomer. In bygone years the park was The Doom Park.
The park was a place of penal confinement where miscreant prisoners
were brought from places further afield to be hanged. Within
the park were arm and leg stocks and several hangmen's gibbets.
The park was also the burial place of those who were put to death
there. In addition to hanging there were other forms of
execution, one of which was to tie a large herring on to the top of
the head of the prisoner, tie a ring of corks for flotation around
the person then deposit the unfortunate into the outgoing tide.
Gannets did the rest. Gannets are large heavy sea birds that
have sharp and powerful beaks. On detecting a fish on the surface of
the water they fold their wings and plummet in a power dive. A
woman convicted of a serious crime or the charge of witchcraft was
dealt with more leniently. The lady was seated on the rocks at
low tide and a boulder was tied to her ankles.
Gannet putting on the brakes
as it prepares to dive.
courtesy of photographer David Stevenson
things like this have happened or were such stories told to young
people to keep us in line and be law abiding? I don't know.
I'm just passing along what was a generally held belief and was told
to me in all earnestness about the Dome Park.
At the nearby town of St. Andrews
that borders the sea the dispatch of undesirables was done a little
differently. Within the confines of St. Andrews Castle is a
dungeon in the shape of a bottle. The
Bottle Dungeon is over 20 feet deep and carved out of the solid
rock. Those out of favour with the establishment were lowered
down to the bottom, the rope extracted and a lid put in place.
Forgotten about and in the cold total darkness, with the sea incessantly
pounding against the outer wall, a confined prisoner didn't last long. Out of
sight and out of sound with a vengeance.
During World War II when the Dome Park was
plowed up for what turned out to be a futile attempt to grow potatoes
a man-made hand hewn rectangular stone with a dome shaped top
like a marker was unearthed. It was removed and
deposited on to the shoreline at the west end of the park. Maybe
it's still laying there.
curtain rises. Update as of 28th March 2007
Earlsferry friend Albert
writes: Re the wall at Dome (or Doom) Park.
The Earl of Balcarres
had that wall built when he 'got his hands smacked' after his
support for the 1715 rebellion. He wanted to retain a foothold in
Fife whilst he was in exile so he built the wall round the piece of
ground we call Dome Park. He called it "Earlsferry
Abbey." The top layer of finished stanes have been
removed from the wall long ago and probably used to finish off the
newer wall that borders the "big" houses.
will read up more about it and let you know what I find out.
I'm not going to hold my breath on this as Albert's pal Jems just became owner
and skipper of the "Rum Rig" a 24 foot Trident sailboat and Albert has
become First Mate so it's my guess that more info. on the Dome Park wont be forthcoming
for quite a while.