Crail in East Fife.
Crail today is best known for its much photographed picturesque harbour. You will see images of the harbour in many publications. Crail is a beautiful town with small houses covered in red pan-tiled roofs. Crail has earned an enviable reputation for shellfish due to the exceptional cleanliness of the local water.
Crail probably dates from at least as far back as the Pictish period, many of the town's buildings date from the 17th to early 19th centuries, with many restored by the National Trust for Scotland.
You will find below a walk trail around the village which will take you back in time when the streets would have been bustling with all the local fishermen and their families.
Crail Historic Trail.
(Allow 1 to 2 hrs) Crail, meaning 'corner town', is the oldest of the East Neuk burghs, granted Royal Burgh status in 1310 by King Robert the Bruce. Crail was the gateway to European riches, thriving on trading with Europe's Low Countries. Its stone-built buildings show the influence of this trade with Europe.
1. Crail Marketgate with its broad street and avenue of trees became one of the largest market places in medieval Europe. The Mercat (Market) Cross, the town's symbol of Royal Burgh status, stands in the Marketgate.
2.Crail Harbour dates from the 16th Century when the curved pier was built, the straight West Pier being added in 1826. The 1690s white Custom House dominates the harbour. Today's Fisherman land crabs & lobsters.
3. Crail Castle, built by King David I, stood on the cliffs above the harbour. It fell into ruin in the 16th Century. The site is still visible as an open garden, but little or nothing of the structure survives above ground. A Victorian 'turret' jutting out from the garden wall recalls the Castle.
4. Priory Doo'cot (Scots for dovecot) of Crail's otherwise vanished Franciscan Friary, has a distinct and unusual cylindrical design from the 16th Century. At one time pigeons were an important source of year-round food.
5. The Blue Stane (stone) is a large boulder to the left of the Crail Church entrance. Legend has it that the Devil flung it here from the Isle of May to demolish the church when it was being built. The dark blue markings are said to be the Devil's thumb print.
6. 19th Century Morthouse is located in the churchyard of Crail Parish Church. Here bodies were stored for several weeks prior to burial. This rendered them useless to the body snatchers who sold corpses to University anatomists.
7. Crail Parish Church, it is one of Scotland's most beautiful ancient churches, consecrated in the 13th Century, and has considerably altered through the centuries. By 1517 it had nine alters and was rich in ornamentation, vestments and books. In 1559, John Knox preached here resulting in the destruction of its ecclesiastical heritage.
The Crail Parish Church retains some 17th century woodwork, and there is an early Christian cross-slab of unusual form (perhaps 10th century), formerly set in the floor, on display. There are a fine collection of mural monuments dating from the late 16th century in the large Crail kirkyard.