Walking along the beautiful, unspoilt beach of this bay, voted the best in Scotland in the year 2000, it is hard to imagine the events of around a millennium ago. In the year 1010 Lunan Bay witnessed a massive invasion of Vikings who were on their way to sack Dundee - an abortive mission as it turned out, thanks to be best efforts of Malcolm II and his fearsome Scottish army at Barry Sands (Carnoustie). It was probably the Viking invasions which led to the construction of "rubeum castrum", or Red Castle, in the 12th century, so called because it was built from red sandstone. William The Lion used it as a residence for his hunting expeditions. In the 16th century, the castle bore witness to scenes worthy of a modern-day soap opera when the owner, Lady Elizabeth Beaton, took a much younger husband, James Gray, who proceeded to fall in love with her daughter. He was thrown out of the castle, and exacted his revenge by laying siege to it, then sacking and burning the property with its inhabitants still inside. The castle has been in ruins ever since, giving the bay a backdrop at once romantic and melancholy.
The magnificent beach with its backdrop of dunes is perfect for belting along on horseback, while the water is popular with surfers. Surfers are cautioned to watch out for salmon nets, because the bay is still used for traditional fishing methods. Another potential hazard for surfers is unexploded World War II bombs. In 1996, the Scottish press reported that the Army were planning to clean up the bay, after 46 unexploded shells were found there, a reminder of the time when the bay was used as a practise bombing range.
Map of the area.