A resort town in Moray, Cullen is situated on Cullen Bay, an inlet of the Moray Firth, 25 miles (40 km) east of Elgin. The original royal burgh charter was granted in 1455 to Inverculan, a settlement that stood near the Cullen Water adjacent to the old kirk of St. Mary of Cullen. This church foundation can be traced back to 1327 when King Robert the Bruce endowed a chaplaincy for his second wife who had died there. It was rebuilt in 1543 by Alexander Ogilvie of Findlater whose monument occupies the full height of the chancel wall.
Old Cullen was moved to higher ground sometime in the Middle Ages and in 1811 the Earl of Seafield commissioned a plan for a new town. The first house was built in 1820 and gradually the whole of Old Cullen was removed to the new site with its regular grid plan and central square.
Occupying a hillside overlooking Cullen Bay, the New Town or Uptown of Cullen looks down on the Seatown of Cullen, an old fishing settlement largely comprising one-storey cottages. The adjacent harbour, originally designed in 1736 by William Adam for the Earl of Findlater, was rebuilt in 1817 and 1823 and extended in 1834.
Nearby on Castle Hill stands Cullen House, first built in 1600 by the Earl of Findlater who moved his seat from Findlater Castle, the ruins of which lie two miles to the east of Cullen on a clifftop overlooking the sea. Noted architects including William Adam, James Adam, James Playfair and David Bryce were all at various times involved in creating and embellishing one of Scotland's finest houses and designed landscapes.
The burgh subsequently developed as a holiday resort with the coming of the railway which also resulted in the creation of the fine viaduct which spans the main street. Cullen, with its long fishing tradition, gives its name to a rich creamy haddock soup known as Cullen Skink.
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