Burghead lies within the north-east of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 8 miles north-west of Elgin, mostly built on a peninsula that juts out into the Moray Firth the location enjoys a stunning beach and an impressive rocky shoreline.

The town is host to a popular holiday park consisting of static caravans and the location is jam-packed with history along with stunning forest and coastal walks. There are far-reaching views to be enjoyed on a clear day together with an amazing range of fauna, flora, bird life with opportunity to spot dolphins and seals playfully leaping out the water.

Burghead Town View from the visitor centre

History of Burghead

During the era of the Picts this location was a significant power base where the largest Pictish fort in existence thrived. During the 9th and 10th centuries the power was eventually taken from the Picts by Viking raiders.

When looking across the Moray Firth you wonder of the panic caused when Viking ships were spotted rowing ferociously towards the shore.

Burghead coast with Viking ship

Thirty bullstones have been found in the early 1800’s at the site that hosted the Pictish fort, however, today only six remain, one can be seen in the British Museum in London another in the National museum of Edinburgh, two in the Elgin Museum and another two in the Headland Trust visitor centre in Burghead itself.

The exodus of families caused by the Highland clearances prompted expansion of the town and the harbour was constructed in the early 1800’s. Stone taken from the great ramparts of the fort was used to build the harbour and new dwellings. Burghead then became a busy fishing and trading port.

The centre is a fascinating place to visit detailing the area history from around 400AD to present day. Once a coastguard lookout the building was constructed on the inner rampart of the old fort and provides stunning views on a clear day over the Moray Firth to the county of Caithness.

Burghead Visitor Centre

Burghead West Beach

At low tide you can spot large areas of peat that are exposed with the receding tide, within the peat are roots and trunks of trees. The peat is thousands of years old, going back to a time when sea levels were much lower than they are now due to the ice age and the melting of huge glaciers.

During the second World War the beach was a hive of activity with the armed forces training for the Allied landings of Normandy. Pillboxes and concrete tank traps were also built to hinder invasion. These remain today and help preserve the sand dunes.

Burghead Beach when the tide is out