• Burghead Visitor Centre
  • Burghead Visitor Centre
  • Burghead Visitor Centre
  • Burghead Visitor Centre
  • Burghead Visitor Centre

Burghead, a peaceful coastal village on the shores of the Moray Firth in the north east Scotland.  Come and visit the Burghead Visitor Centre taking visitors through the history of the area from about 400AD to the present time, learn about the Pictish Burghhead Fort, visit the Dark Age Burghead Well.

The Burning of the Clavie, a fire festival unique to Burghead, which greets the New Year on 11 January every year.  Burghead Bay is rich in wildlife with whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals regularly visiting the waters off Burghead.

New information panels have been erected along the coastal walk between Burghead and Hopeman.  St.Aethans’ Well was restored in 2014.

Geology & Geography of Burghead

The rocky coast from Burghead to Lossiemouth is made from golden-coloured Permian and Triassic age sandstone, unique in this part of Scotland. This whole coast has been quarried for centuries as these sandstones are a beautiful building stone. There are also cliffs and sea caves, and some caves have evidence that they have been used from Pictish times onwards. The rocks at Burghead are Triassic, and are about 240 million years old. These Burghead sand beds were deposited by an ancient river system. If you look carefully you can see where channels eroded down into the layers below. You can also see pebbles transported by the river from nearby mountains.


Red Craig Burghead MorayIf you walk east along the Moray Coastal Path from Burghead towards Hopeman, you come to a red rock at the edge of the sea, called Red Craig. This rock marks the location of a fault between the Burghead beds and the older Hopeman beds.

These Hopeman beds are also sandstones, and were laid down by the wind as ancient dunes. Many tracks of ancient reptiles (older than the dinosaurs) have been found in the Hopeman beds.

Sea Level Changes

Since the end of the latest ice age, sea levels have changed around Burghead. This can be seen on Burghead beach at low tide, when peat beds are exposed. In these peat beds tree trunks, roots and branches can be seen, so sea level was much lower when the trees grew here, probably 7000 years ago. After this sea levels rose to a level higher than they are now. When the Picts occupied Burghead, the high ground from Burghead to Lossiemouth would have been an island.

With time, sea-levels dropped as Scotland rose and Burghead became linked to the mainland again. For further information refer to the Laich of Moray Project.

The island of Burghead to Lossiemouth in 500AD

Visitor Centre Tel: 01343 835518