The village's name is written as Portknockies in the Old Parish Registers. This would suggest that the port's name referred to not one, but two rocky hills at the hythe - the Port Hill and the Greencastle. Nearby towns include Banff, Buckie, Findochty and Cullen.
The village was founded in 1677 and it became a significant herring fishing port during the nineteenth century, although today only a handful of commercial inshore boats remain.
The town was on the railway network, until this closed in 1968.
Small numbers of seabirds nest on the coastal cliffs. These include Fulmar, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Gull, Razorbill and Shag. Additionally Common Eider can be seen in and around the harbour and coves during the summer months.
Rathven is a coastal village in Banffshire, just northwest of the town of Cullen. It is in the civil parish of Rathven, but in the quoad sacra parish of Cullen.