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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Elgin, Scotland

The administrative center for Moray District is Elgin, close on 40mi/64km east of Inverness. The impressive remains of the old episcopal palace, Spynie Palace, and the ruins of one of Scotland's finest cathedrals are proof that the town was an important center in the Middle Ages.

High Street

The front of Duff o'Bracco's House (1694) with its pretty arcade is among the several 17th and 18th C preserved town houses which line the High Street.

Elgin Museum

The Elgin town museum (no. 1) has notable archaeological and geological sections relating to the Moray region.
Address: 1 High Street, Elgin IV30 1EQ, Scotland

Elgin Cathedral

Elgin's first cathedral (13th C) was proudly described by the then bishop as "the glory of the kingdom, the delight of foreigners", but in 1390 the town was destroyed by Alexander Stewart "the Wolf of Badenoch" in an act of revenge for his excommunication. More damage was inflicted later on by the plundering supporters of John Knox and the troops of Oliver Cromwell. Now only the remains of the Elgin Cathedral tower show the one-time splendor of the 314ft/96m long "Lantern of the North" as the church in King Street used to be known. The west facade designed in French style, the choir with its Early Gothic lancet windows (c 1270), the great east rose window ("Omega Window") and the octagonal chapterhouse with its fine stonework (c 1390) are the most striking features of what remains.
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Birnie Church

Before the diocese chose Elgin as its center, the bishop's seat was in Birnie (3mi/4.8km to the south of Elgin). A Norman church was built on the site of a sixth century Celtic chapel c 1140 and the church is thus able to claim to be the oldest surviving church on Scottish soil.

Pluscarden Abbey

The Pluscarden Abbey at Elgin.
Pluscarden Abbey stands in the shadow of several ancient trees (6mi/9.6km southwest of Elgin). It was founded in 1230 for members of the Valliscaulian Order. Like the Cathedral in Elgin, it was destroyed by the "Wolf of Badenoch" in 1390. Benedictine monks settled here until 1560. Followers of the Benedictine order returned in 1943 and restored the ruins.

Spynie Palace

At the end of the 15th C the episcopal seat at Spynie (2mi/3km to the north of Elgin) was one of the finest sacred buildings in Scotland. In the 17th C an Italianate terraced garden was added. The massive David's Tower was built between 1470 and 1480 by Bishop David Stewart as a defense against attacks by the Gordon Clan.
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle (5mi/8km northwest of Elgin), once the seat of the Murray family, is a fine example of a Norman motte and bailey castle and it dominates the flat farmland between Elgin and the coast. Surrounded by a water-filled moat, the wooden palisades were replaced by a stone tower house with stout walls.

Gordonstoun School

Prince Philip, Prince Charles and his brother Andrew were educated at Gordonstoun boarding school. It was founded in 1934 by the German educationalist Kurt Hahn, after fleeing Germany.

Burghead Well

Little is known of the origin and age of Burghead Well (7.5mi/12km to the northwest of Elgin). It is a man-made cave which was probably carved out of the rock as part of an Iron Age fort. The 3ft/1m deep water-hole may well have been used as a baptismal font.
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Brodie Castle and Country Park

The magnificent Brodie Castle estate has been the seat of the Brodie family since 1160 when the land was loaned by Malcolm IV. The castle (3mi/4.8km to the west of Forres) was built ca. 1567 by Alexander Brodie and the west wing was added in the early 17th century. Troops of Lord Lewis set fire to the castle in 1645 after the laird signed the "National Covenant". Reconstruction followed in 1730. In the 19th century the Z-shaped sandstone tower was extended by William Burn and since 1980 the castle has been in the possession of the National Trust for Scotland. Fine French furniture from the 18th and 19th C, Chinese porcelain and objets d'art, Meissen and English tableware and a notable collection of paintings including the work of French Impressionists and English and Dutch artists from the 17th-19th centuries are among the items on display in the elegant interior. A tour around the extensive grounds should include a visit to the 6ft/2m high Pictish Rodney Stone, carved with Celtic animal symbols and inscriptions.

Randolph's Leap

The River Findhorn winds its way through a narrow sandstone gorge about 8mi/12.8km south of Forres. From a footpath above the ravine near Randolph's Leap, there is a beautiful view over the babbling waters of the Findhorn.

Moray Motor Museum

The centerpiece of this collection is a 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I. Other bikes and historic automobiles are to be found in the Moray Motor Museum.
Address: Bridge Street, Bishopmill, Elgin IV30 2DE, Scotland


Lossiemouth, Scotland

The town museum in Lossiemouth (pop. 7,400; 6mi/9.6km to the north of Elgin) concentrates on the role of the fishing industry locally, but it is also a place of pilgrimage for British socialists as the study of Ramsay MacDonald, Britain's first Labor prime minister and a son of Lossiemouth, has been recreated here.

Forres, Scotland

Forres (pop. 9,000) has won prominence in recent years for its colorful floral displays in the "Britain in Bloom" competition. William Shakespeare chose Forres as the setting for the opening of "Macbeth." In the play Macbeth, under pressure from his wife, murders King Duncan, who, it has now been historically proven, lived in Forres at the beginning of the 11th century.

Sueno's Stone

A huge 22ft/7m high finely decorated stone stands at the eastern end of Forres. On one side of Sueno's Stone a Christian wheel cross is depicted, while the other side shows battle scenes.
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Falconer Museum

Hugh and Alexander Falconer's museum (1870) focuses on social history and geology in the region.
Address: Tolbooth Street, Forres IV36 1PH, Scotland

Darnaway Farm

Darnaway Farm (3mi/4.8km southwest of Forres) is a working farm where visitors are welcome. Children will enjoy the animal enclosure.

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