The town of Ellon straddles the lovely river Ythan which marks the southern boundary of Buchan.

Pratt (1858) states

The name Ellon is generally supposed to be derived from the Gaelic word Aileann signifying an island. Its application to the parish is accounted for by the circumstance of a small island in the river Ythan, adjacent to the village of Ellon, having marked the situation of the ferry formerly used on the principal line of road from Aberdeen to the north-eastern parts of Scotland. In support of this derivation, we may remark that, in the inscription on some old communion-plate presented by the Forbeses of Waterton, the name is written Elleann.

The river Ythan, which passes through the town, was famous for its pearl-fishery, the pearls having been harvested not from oysters but from pearl-mussels. It is said that the great pearl in the crown of Scotland was collected from the river Ythan.

More from Pratt:

Ellon has three inns. The New Inn, a lately erected, containing excellent accommodations, and of imposing appearance—the Town Hall forming part of the design; the Buchan Hotel, at the northern extremity of the bridge, also a commodious and comfortable house of entertainment; and the Commercial Inn on the west side of the square—an old and well-frequented house of resort. Along the bank of the river westward of the bridge there are very neat pretty cottages, fronted with flower-pots, and vegetable gardens on the left of the intervening road, which stretch down to the very margin of the stream.

. . . Ellon has many attractions, and therefore many visitors in the summer season. Some resort to it for a change of scene; others, again, for its pleasing situation and comfortable accommodations, its salubrious air, and, though last not least, its admirable fishing.

By the 1960s Ellon had become a quiet country town serving the surrounding farming area, but it had been a place of significance in earlier times. The Thane of Buchan held a Head Court there three times a year at the Moot Hill, and here justice was dispensed, and miscreants were executed.

The middle of the town still retains some of the character that Pratt described especially beside the river, but starting in the 1970s Ellon has become surrounded by very large housing developments which serve as dormitories for workers in the oil industry employed in Aberdeen.

(Revision date: Friday 16th March 2012)