CRAIL (formerly Karel), a royal and police burgh of Fifeshire, Scotland, 2 m. from Fife Ness, the most easterly point of the county, and 11 m. S.E. of St Andrews by the North British railway, but 2 m. nearer by road. Pop. (1901) 1077. It is said to have been a town of some note as early as the 9th century; and its castle, of which there are hardly any remains, was the residence of David I. and other Scottish kings. It was constituted a royal burgh by a charter of Robert Bruce in 1306, and had its privileges confirmed by Robert II. in 1371, by Mary in 1553, and by Charles I. in 1635. Of its priory, dedicated to St Rufus, a few ruins still exist. The church of Maelrubha, the patron saint of Crail, is an edifice of great antiquity. Many of the ordinary houses are massive and quaint. The public buildings include a library and reading-room and town hall. The chief industries comprise fisheries, especially for crabs, shipping and brewing. It is growing in favour as a summer resort. It unites with St Andrews, the two Anstruthers, Kilrenny, Pittenweem and Cupar in returning one member to parliament.
Balcomie Castle, about 2 m. to the N.E., dates from the 14th century. Here Mary of Guise landed in 1538, a few days before her marriage to James V. in St Andrews cathedral. In the 18th century it passed through the hands of various proprietors and was ultimately shorn of much of its original size and grandeur. The East Neuk is a term applied more particularly to the country round Fife Ness, and more generally to all of the peninsula east of an imaginary line drawn from St Andrews to Elie. For fully half the year the cottages of its villages are damp with the haar, or dense mist, borne on the east wind from the North Sea.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)