Spynie Palace

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Spynie Palace is situated 3 miles north of Elgin, 3 miles south of Lossiemouth, off the Moray Coast road, built from the 1200s for the Bishops of Moray.

The Palace is open for visits with an entrance fee: 1 April to 30 September, 9.30am to 5.30pm. Closed 1 October to 31 March. Postcode: IV30 5QG

Map Large Images Website

See also a large Click On Map for Top Attractions in the area.

The image top is of the entrance to Spynie Palace from the fairly large Car Park, as a number of Tour Buses visit the Palace.



The second image is of the Palace east side, showing it is basically a Castle used by the Bishops of Elgin Cathedral as their Palace.

The Information Board shows each section of the Palace, such as David's Tower and the Great Hall.

Information Board Large Image

Spynie Palace History

1120s - the first Bishops of Moray were documented, traveling between buildings at Birnie, Kinneddar, and Spynie.

1207 - Bishop Brice starts the building of the small Spynie Cathedral, with the Bishops then based at Spynie.

1200s - the earliest parts of Spynie Palace / Spynie Castle, were built for the Bishops of Moray, close to the Cathedral, on the site of an earlier Wooden Castle.

1224 - Bishop Andrew begins the building of the much larger Elgin Cathedral, with Spynie Palace used as their Secure Residence. There was a Royal Castle at Elgin, with the Bishops hoping that would help protect their new vast Cathedral.

1362 - King David II stayed at Spynie Palace for some time to avoid the Plague in Edinburgh.

1390 - Alexander Stewart / Wolf of Badenoch, brother of King Robert III, attacked the area with his forces, burning much of Forres, Elgin, and Elgin Cathedral. His brother stopped him from burning Spynie Palace.

Bishop Bur of Elgin Cathedral had excommunicated Stewart for Marriage Infidelity, leading to the attacks.

1400s - Bishop John de Winchester carried out alterations to Spynie Palace. As well as being the Bishop of Moray, John was the King's Master of Works, responsible for alterations to Inverness and Urquhart Castles, also Linlithgow Palace.

1400s late - the six story David's Tower was completed for Bishop David Stewart, claimed to be the largest Tower of that time.

1560 - the Reformation in Scotland made Catholic Worship illegal, with Catholic Bishops and Monks allowed to live out their lives at their Cathedrals, Abbeys, and Priory's.

The Reformation led to a series of Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants, and different types of Protestantism, such as the Bishops Wars, Covenanters, Wars of the Three Kingdoms, English Civil War, and Jacobite's.

1562 - Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Spynie Palace for 2 nights while in the area with her forces dealing with the Earl of Huntly, who had been rebelling against her. The Earl died in captivity later that year, with his Body taken to Edinburgh to stand Trial.

1567 - Mary Queen of Scots was defeated by forces of Scots Nobles at the Battle of Carberry Hill, with her husband Lord Bothwell / James Hepburn, forced to flee for his life.

Scots Nobles had blamed Lord Bothwell for the Murder of Mary's earlier husband, Lord Darnley, leading to the Nobles forcing Mary to Abdicate in favour of her Protestant son James.

1567 - Bishop Hepburn, the last Roman Catholic Bishop at Spynie, sheltered his relative Lord Bothwell at Spynie before he traveled to Orkney, then Denmark, where he died in a Gruesome Prison.

1567 - Elgin Cathedral was abandoned, leading to it falling into ruin.

1573 - Bishop Patrick Hepburn died, leading to Protestant Bishops using Spynie Palace from that time.

1640 - the Covenanter General Munro took the Palace from Bishop Guthrie, as Guthrie had refused to subscribe to the Covenant. Covenanters were against Kings and Queens being the head of their Churches.

1662 - the restoration of Episcopacy, Bishops in control of Churches in Scotland, led to Spynie Palace being passed back to Bishops.

1689 - Bishop Hay was removed from office for refusing to take an Oath of Allegiance to King William and Queen Mary, last Bishop to use the Palace.

The Palace then passed into the hands of the Crown with its Ironwork and Wood Carvings removed.

Local people then began taking Stone from the Palace for other buildings in the area.

1973 - the ruins were taken over by Historic Environment Scotland to be Maintained for use as a Tourist Attraction.

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Spynie Palace Photos