The remains of a Pictish castle found on the rooftops witness early settlement at this location. Although a town of 1,290 residents, Portknockie is essentially a residential community with few business premises.
The old seatown around the harbour features traditional, turn of the century housing in north–south rows, which is designated an Outstanding Conservation Area. Council built houses were established post WWII to the east while the growth of private bungalows has spread along the southern periphery of the town.
Portknockie has ideal and attractive views over the Moray Firth and its signature feature, Bow Fiddle Rock, pleasant cliff top walks to the adjoining towns of Cullen and Findochty and its heritage experience of the harbour and the old town.
The main commercial life is around the Square and Church Street, the main thoroughfare. Here can be found the Victoria Hotel, the Seafield Inn, the chemist’s, the butcher’s and the Portknockie Chippie. In Church Street there is a Mace food store with a post office and a general store selling newspapers and magazines. The Square has recently been landscaped and contains a signpost to local features. Church Street is the location of the newly developed Millennium Garden with seating and picnic facilities. There are also three hairdressers in the town and a taxi booking point. The harbour has moorings for yachts, which can enter and leave, at any state of the tides. These mooring pontoons were partly funded by Moray Badenoch and, Strathspey Enterprise. There is also a garage at the end of the harbour road. Just east of the harbour is a small development of business premises for the local builders and a MOT testing centre.
The town is well served by the route 305 Elgin to Aberdeen Bluebird bus service, which provides access to Buckie, the nearest large town. Portknockie also has a large park with children’s swings on its eastern edge, tennis courts and a bowling green, a caravan park and a number of meeting halls. There is also a paddling pool for summer use in the harbour.
Local groups meet regularly in these halls and they frequently feature fund raising events, such as coffee mornings, for local charities. In the planning stage is a centre which it is hoped will become and information point for visitors to Portknockie. Portknockie has a primary school and a busy playgroup run by a local committee.
The town has a Church of Scotland Kirk and a number of meeting halls for the Church of Christ and The Brethren. There is a cemetery, shared with Findochty, to the west of the town. Portknockie, along with Cullen and Deskford is a part of a Heritage Group which documents the traditions and practices of this area lest they be forgotten. It holds a very popular annual exhibition of its researches every year in neighbouring Cullen.
Portknockie has an elected Community Council, which meets monthly in the Primary School to manage local affairs. It also organises the annual Best Kept Garden competition for residents and hopes one day to encourage an “adopt a street” scheme in the town to ensure Portknockie will have a strong floral character. There is an active Amenities Group to run the annual Gala and other fund–raising events that benefit Portknockie. For the past year there has been a special Millennium sub–group to arrange special, one off events for the year 2000.