Classification and Statistics

Settlement Type: village
Population (2011): 1639    
(2001): 1695
(1991): 1449
(1981): 1182
(1971): 1075
(1961): 1066
(1951): 1139
(1901): 1074
(Police Burgh)
(1881): 1145
(1871): 1126
(1861): 1238
(1841): 1221

Tourist Rating: Three Stars
Text of Entry Updated: 03-AUG-2017

Latitude: 56.2602°N Longitude: 2.6262°W
National Grid Reference: NO 613 077
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Extended onto an upper raised beach, the older part of Crail lies around a harbour located at a lower beach level on a geological fault. The foreshore to the west of Crail is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) owing to its geological importance. Coal and shale seams are exposed in the surrounding sandstone cliffs, which were formed as part of a delta system in Carboniferous times (335 million years ago). Notable features include a fossil tree stump, tracks of an ancient giant centipede (Arthropleura) and a glacial erratic known as the Mermaid's Cradle.
One of the oldest and least spoilt of the ancient Royal Burghs of Scotland, Crail's early prosperity was based on trade with the Low Countries. The layout of the town contains three separate planned market squares which reflect the expansion of the 16th Century (High Street and Marketgate). Stone, much of which was quarried from nearby sea cliffs, is the principal building material. Many of the 17th and 18th century houses feature crow-stepped gables and fore-stairs, together with marriage lintels which give the initials of the first owners of the property and the date of their marriage.

The castle, which lay where Crail House now stands, was built in the 12th century on the instructions of David I. Around 1160, Crail became the property of his daughter-in-law Countess Ada de Warenne, who was the mother of Malcolm IV and William I. The castle was in ruins by the 16th century.

The West Pier was built complete in 1828, the work of engineer Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850) and Crail remained an important fishing port into the 20th century.


References and Further Reading
Cant, Ronald G. (1976) Historic Crail: An Illustrated Survey. Crail Preservation Society, Crail

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