Just south of Slains Castle, Cruden Bay was the site of a battle between Danes and Scots under King Malcolm II in 1012. Traditionally, the name was derived from the Gaelic Croch Dain (Slaughter of Danes), although Crùidein (kingfisher) has also been suggested; such birds still being seen in the nearby estuary.
Today, Cruden Bay attracts tourists with its hotels and well-known golf course. It has a long, unspoiled, beach made famous by Norwegian aviator Tryggve Gran who made the first solo flight across the North Sea.
Bram Stoker holidayed first at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel and then at nearby Whinneyfold from 1894. Slains Castle inspired Dracula, since Stoker was a regular guest at the Kilmarnock Arms, and Stoker’s novel The Mystery of the Sea and some short stories use have Cruden Bay as their setting.
James Macpherson's poem The Highlander (1758) takes the battle of Cruden as its model.
Earliest nearby human traces are evident in nearby Catto Long Barrow, a massive stone structure now surrounded by agricultural fields.
The nearby clifftop Slains Castle was begun in 1597 and abandoned and unroofed for tax purposes in the 1920s. It was given to the Earl of Errol by Robert the Bruce. Bishop's Bridge spans Cruden Water and dates from 1697.
William Hay, 19th Earl of Erroll , established the fishing community of Port Erroll in the 1840s and 1850s, adding a functional harbour at the mouth of the Water of Cruden in the 1870s. Before that a tiny, now long-abandoned hamlet of rudimentary fisher cottages, simply known as Ward, stood exposed on top of Ward Hill, just above the harbour site. There was also a parish school since 1606, housed in the elegant two-storey Erroll Schoolhouse (now a B & B) from 1834; the Presbyterian St Olaf or simply Old Kirk (1776, with distinctive conical towers added in 1833); and St James Episcopal Church on top of Chapel Hill in 1842.
Port Erroll developed as a fishing community to some extent, but the tidal nature of the harbour restricted the size of craft which could operate from it and the village missed out on the herring boom. However, tourism provided another source of income for the village. Even before the coming of the railway, the long pink curve of the Bay of Cruden sands and scenic cliffscapes to the north were attracting visitors and a small seaside resort was grafting itself onto the fishing community. The Cruden Bay Golfing Society, founded in 1791, played on the open links.
Cruden Bay is a nice place to live, with a medium sized primary school. Secondary pupils are bussed to nearby Peterhead Academy. There are a few small shops - a chemist/newsagent, a post office/hardware, a craft shop and a general store. There is also a chinese takeaway, a medical surgey and a library. There are also many sports facilites - tennis courts, and two football pitches. The school and public hall house a number of youth groups such as Girlguiding UK. There is a Congregational Church in the village centre, and just outside of the village there is an Episcopalian Church and a Church of Scotland. Cruden Bay is not far from the towns of Ellon and Peterhead, and is approx 30 minutes drive from Aberdeen City.
Holiday makers are served by a number of hotels and bed and breakfasts; all of good quality.
The beach is extremley popular with visitors, as is the world famous golf course and Slains Castle.
SCOTLAND'S FILTHY BEACHES. . . Waste from sewers and farm run-off is blamed as Cruden Bay loses its seaside flag award and 10 others stand on the brink. Environment editor Rob Edwards reports
Jul 20, 2008; BEACHES across Scotland are being contaminated with sewage this summer which breaches afety limits and threatens bathers with...