Crail Museum & Heritage Centre
Our walk starts outside Crail Museum and Heritage Centre.
Crail is the most easterly of the Burghs in the East Neuk of Fife and also the oldest. Crail is mentioned in ancient documents dated back to the 12th century and it was probably a Royal Burgh by the time of King William The Lion in 1178, but the first documentary evidence of its status as a Royal Burgh is in a grant of Robert The Bruce in 1310.
Being a Royal Burgh gave Crail rights to hold markets which were obviously beneficial for Crail’s merchants but also enabled the King to collect taxes.
Initially the market had exclusive rights in an area from Boarhills in the north to Leven in the west, making Crail a very prosperous centre for trade within Fife and for shipborne trade with the Low Countries (modern day Netherlands).
The name Crail was pronounced as two syllables in the Middle Ages: KAR-ALE.
The first part probably comes from the Scottish Gaelic/Pictish word CAER meaning a Fortified Settlement - itself derived from the Latin word CASTRA meaning a Fortified Camp as in CHESTER or LANCASTER.
The meaning of the second part is uncertain with several alternatives being suggested.
The museum provides an insight into the past life of this ancient Royal Burgh, its kirk, seafaring tradition, Crail Golfing Society and airfield history from the First World War until its closure in 1960.
The museum building has a marriage lintel dated 1703 with initials TM and IP over the door, and the panel above shows that the building was rebuilt in 1876. Beware that marriage lintels tell you the date of the marriage and not the date of the building - you find newer lintels carved into older buildings and old lintels restored and placed in newer buildings as in this case.
Now turn your attention to the adjacent building - the Town Hall or Tolbooth.