Built along the banks of the lovely River Lossie is former cathedral city of Elgin. It is a beautiful place to walk around and has a long and turbulent history.
It is the ancient capital of Moray and the seat of the Bishops of Moray. Its name possibly translates as Little Ireland, which may give a clue as from where early settlers arrived.
It was granted Royal Burgh status by King David I in 1224 and was the northern boundary for Edward I and his army as they ransacked their way through Scotland in 1296. He stayed at Elgin Castle, which stood on top of Lady Hill – only a small section of the castle is still visible and the lofty Duke of Gordon monument now marks the site. The notorious Alexander Stewart, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch, raised Elgin and its cathedral to the ground in 1390.
Both were subsequently rebuilt and over the course of the next few centuries Elgin prospered, particularly during the Victorian era, when the railway arrived, and many of the fine buildings within the town date from this period, not least the stunning remains of Elgin Cathedral.
Elgin Cathedral was consecrated in 1224 and was known as the Lantern of the North. It quickly became the ecclesiastical centre of Moray and was thought to be Scotland’s second largest cathedral after St Andrews. After the Wolf of Badenoch had destroyed the cathedral the Bishop of Moray described it as ‘The Ornament of the Realm, the Glory of the Kingdom’.
It was extensively rebuilt during the 15th century but stood without real purpose after the Reformation of 1560, after which it fell into neglect with the central tower collapsing in 1711.
However Elgin Cathedral is still a splendid sight with the twin western towers and the 15th century octagonal Chapter House central to any visit.