Pittenweem is a Royal Burgh. Founded as a fishing village, it grew along the shoreline from the West where the sheltered beaches provided safe places for fishermen to draw their boats up out of the water. A breakwater was built extending out from one of the rocky skerries that jut out South-West into the Firth of Forth like fingers. This provided an ability to keep boats afloat rather than being beached, thus allowing for larger boats. A new breakwater further to the east has been developed over the years into a deep, safe, harbour with a covered fish market. As the herring disappeared from local waters and the fishing fleet shrank, this harbour and attendant facilities led Pittenweem to become the main harbour for the fishermen of the East Neuk of Fife.