Strategically positioned on the coastal strip between Berwick and Edinburgh, Dunbar has had a colourful history, with a sequence of fortification and settlement from the Iron Age onwards. Deriving its name from the British ‘dyn-baer’, meaning ‘summit fort’, the military value of Dunbar Castle meant that the town was hard hit by successive wars and feuds and its eventful history included a period as a French army garrison in the 16th century. Dunbar’s importance as a market town, however, is reflected in its elevation to the status of a royal burgh in 1445. Its port and fishing fleet brought additional prosperity in succeeding centuries.
Dunbar’s rich past is reflected in the diversity of its surviving archaeology – prehistoric enclosures to the south of the town, Iron Age and Anglian settlement in Castle Park, the medieval castle, its friary, tolbooth, parish church, as well as later buildings such as the Belhaven Brewery and the harbour warehouses.