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Things to do in Elgin, Moray

Elgin is a former Royal Burgh situated above the River Lossie in Moray amidst beautiful countryside.

Elgin Cathedral © Wayne Haverson
Elgin Cathedral © Wayne Haverson


It is 36 miles east of Inverness.

Elgin is currently the administrative centre for the region with a population of over 25,000.

Landmarks include the tall column erected in honour of the 5th Duke of Gorgon on top of Lady Hill in 1839.

It has some historic buildings along the High Street.

The Muckle Cross and the 1733 Little Cross are historic local features.

Elgin has a pleasant mix of shops in the town centre from speciality gift shops to Gordon and MacPhail's Deli on South Street.

Bishopmill bridge © Wayne Haverson
Bishopmill bridge © Wayne Haverson

The Cooper Park was donated by George Cooper in 1903 and has a children's play area, library and Cooper Pond.

Things to Do Around Elgin

Elgin is the perfect centre from which to explore the castles in the area.

Brodie Castle, Ballindoch Castle and Cawdor Castle are all within easy driving distance.

Fort George, Spynie Palace and the Battlefield of Culloden are also less than an hour's drive away.

Malt whisky lovers will appreciate the seven distilleries in the County of Moray which make up the Malt Whisky Trail.

The Speyside Cooperage is also a fascinating place to visit and see barrels being made.

Cooper Park Pond © Wayne Haverson
Cooper Park Pond © Wayne Haverson

Shopping for Scottish goods can be enjoyed at the Johnston's Cashmere Visitor Centre.

Walkers, Baxters and Brodie Countryfare are within easy reach from Elgin for shortbread and other Scottish foods.

Roseisle Forest is just down the road and has cycle and walking trails.

You can also walk from the forest along the sandy beach to the village of Burghead.

The Cairngorms offer rugged mountain scenery, rivers and glens for hiking, fishing and climbing.

There are several excellent golf courses at Forres, Lossiemouth, Kinloss Country Club and in Elgin itself.

Cathedral From Cooper Park © Wayne Haverson
Cathedral From Cooper Park © Wayne Haverson

For winter sports, Aviemore is less than an hour's drive through beautiful countryside.

History of Elgin

Elgin has a long history first recorded in 1151.

King David I of Scotland declared it a Royal Burgh in the 12th century.

Elgin had a castle built around that time on top of Lady Hill although little now remains.

River Lossie © Wayne Haverson
River Lossie © Wayne Haverson


It was occupied by Edward I in the latter part of the 13th century.

Demise of Elgin Cathedral

Elgin Cathedral was built in the late 1200s and was said to be the finest in Scotland.

Unfortunately it was burnt to the ground in 1390 by Alexander, Earl of Buchan, along with the settlement of Elgin.

The cathedral was rebuilt and survived the Reformation but in 1567 the lead was plundered from the roof and in 1637 the roof of the choir collapsed.

In 1711, on Easter Sunday the central tower fell, destroying most of the nave.

The ruins became a source of local stone until 1807 when the site was enclosed and John Shanks was appointed to preserve what remained.

Cooper Park © Wayne Haverson
Cooper Park © Wayne Haverson

It is now an excellent example of mediaeval architecture.

By the 18th century Elgin was a prosperous burgh with some fine architecture.

Dr Gray's Hospital and the neo-classic St Giles Church were erected and in 1842 the Elgin Museum was opened, now an award-winning attraction.

The railway arrived in the mid-1850s and Elgin quickly doubled in size.


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