Spynie Castle was the fortified seat of the Bishops of Moray for about 500. The founding of the palace dates back to the late 12th Century. It is situated about 500m from the location of the first officially settled Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Moray, in present-day Spynie Churchyard.

The first castle was a wooden structure built in the late 12th century. The excavated evidence suggests that the buildings were surrounded by a rectangular ringwork and ditch which seem to have enclosed an area of roughly the same as the 14th-century curtain wall, i.e., an enclosure of 45 – 65m and is large even by medieval ringworks found elsewhere in Britain. It is likely that the buildings would have consisted of the bishop's house with a hall, a bed chamber and a chapel and also holding a brewhouse and a bakehouse.

The stone buildings first appeared in the 13th century with the establishment of what was thought to have been a chapel and which had coloured glass windows. The remaining wooden buildings were gradually replaced with stone, and this continued through into the 14th century when the first main castle building was erected. This was a near-square structure built within a 7-metre-high curtain wall.

The most significant buildings were established in the later 15th century through into the 16th century when David's Tower was built along with other substantial accommodation areas. The tower is the largest by volume of all medieval Scottish towers measuring 19m by 13.5m and 22m.

Following the restoration of Episcopacy to the Scottish Church in 1662 ownership of the castle passed back to the church, but it was starting to fall into decay.

Major work to stabilise the structure was undertaken during the late 1970s using a large scaffold. Ultimately a curtain wall was reinstated disguising a large concrete plinth that prevents the tower from collapsing.



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Elgin, United Kingdom
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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Andrew Lawson (14 months ago)
Beautiful medieval Palace in ruins but still pretty good shape considering its age. Lots of interesting features and history. Well worth a visit. Some of it is closed off completely but lots of it you an still get into. I htink you have to pay during nornal hours and its closed for covid at the moment.
Sue savage (22 months ago)
Fantastic had a great day out here, the place is very large and a lot more intact than I expected.
Andrew Murphy (23 months ago)
Hidden away in a beautiful location. The site is well kept and has interesting historical significance. The staff member on duty when I visited was friendly and very knowledgeable and took the time to have a chat about the site and other sites in the area. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys soaking up some of Scotland's rich history.
Kevin Mclelland (2 years ago)
Staff were very knowledgeable and helpful any questions were met with good informative answers and suggestions. There is surprising rooms to find and the signs give a good idea to imagine what once was. It's crazy to think there was a 5 mile loch at the base of the palace that has now vanished. You can climb up to the very top of the tower and you are presented with a glorious view of the surrounding area from elgin to lossiemouth. Well worth a visit plenty of areas to stop and have a picnic. This site is fully dog friendly and there is a disabled toilet provided.
Elisabeth Schallehn (2 years ago)
It's a great place. I liked the peaceful atmosphere with its prehistoric feel around it which was different to the actual side. The side does not feel clerical but like a castle
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