Scotland 24/7 - The definitive guide to travel and tourism in Scotland



Crail, in The Kingdom of Fife, is a very popular East Neuk village adored by both artists and photographers. The picture of Crail harbor with its little houses, white walls, crowstepped gables and red pantile roofs, features on the front of numerous brochures and many calendars. Yet there is much more to Crail than the pretty harbor which was the lifeline for one of Scotland's most prosperous burghs in medieval times.

Crail is the oldest East Neuk Burgh, and became a Royal Burgh in the 12th century. In 1310 Robert the Bruce granted permission for Crail to hold markets on Sunday - always a contentious point with the Reformers. The markets, which were once among the largest in Europe, were held in the Marketgait where the 17th century Mercat Cross stands.

The distinctive squat tower of the Tolbooth with its rare Dutch type roof has a fish as a weathervane. This is an old reminder of the days when the Crail Capon - a split and dried haddock - was a famous delicacy associated with Crail. The Tolbooth dates from the 16th century and used to house the old Council Chamber, Courtroom and prison. Also in Marketgait is Crail Parish Church on a site where there has been a church since the 12th century.

Crail has many old houses and cottages and is best explored on foot to capture the quiet atmosphere of a Scottish village. The dominant building around the harbor is the large, white, crowstepped, Customs House, built in 1690. East of Crail is the Balcomie Links of the Crail Golfing Society which is the seventh oldest golf club in the world. Visitors are always welcome to enjoy the bracing air of Fife Ness while out on a round of golf.

To the north of Crail lies the attractive coastal village of Kingsbarns so named because the King's grain was stored in the large barns before being transported to the Crail or Falkland. The first church in Kingsbarns was built in 1631.