In August 1040, MacBeth's army defeated and killed Duncan I at Bothganowan (Pitgaveny), near Elgin. Elgin is first recorded in a charter of David I in 1151 in which he granted an annuity to the Priory of Urquhart. David had made Elgin a royal burgh around 1130, after his defeat of Óengus of Moray. During David's reign the castle was established at the top of what is now Lady Hill. The town received a royal charter from Alexander II in 1224 when he granted the land for a new cathedral to Andrew, Bishop of Moray. This finally settled the episcopal see which had been at various times at Kinneddar, Birnie and Spynie. Elgin was a popular residence for the early Scottish monarchs: David I, William I, Alexander II and Alexander III all held court there and hunted in the royal forests.
Of these kings, Alexander II was Elgin's greatest benefactor and returned many times to his royal castle. He established the two religious houses of the town, the Dominicans or Blackfriars in the west side and the Franciscans or Greyfriars in the east. Further to the east stood the Hospital of Maison Dieu, or House of God, also founded during the reign of Alexander II for the reception of poor men and women.
On 19 July 1224, the foundation stone of the new Elgin Cathedral was ceremoniously laid. The cathedral was completed sometime after 1242 but was completely destroyed by fire in 1270. The reasons for this are unrecorded. The buildings which now remain as ruins date from the reconstruction following that fire. The Chartulary of Moray described the completed cathedral as "Mirror of the country and the glory of the kingdom".
Edward I of England travelled twice to Elgin. During his first visit in 1296 he was impressed by what he saw. Preserved in the Cotton library now held in the British Library is the journal of his stay, describing the castle and the town of Elgin as "bon chastell et bonne ville" — good castle and good town. By his second visit in September 1303, the castle's wooden interior had been burned while held by the English governor, Henry de Rye. As a result, he only stayed in Elgin for two days and then camped at Kinloss Abbey from 13 September until 4 October. King Edward was furious when David de Moravia, Bishop of Moray, joined Scotland's cause with Bruce, and Edward appealed to the Pope who excommunicated the bishop, thus removing papal protection, causing him to flee to Orkney, then to Norway, only to return after Robert Bruce's victories against the English. After Edward's death in July 1307, Robert the Bruce retook Scotland in 1308, slighting castles to keep them out of English hands. David de Moravia, the Bishop of Moray at the head of his army, joined with Bruce and they slighted the castles of Inverness, Nairn and Forres before seizing and slighting Kinneddar Castle, which also housed English soldiers. He attacked Elgin castle to be twice repulsed before finally succeeding.
In August 1370 Alexander Bur, Bishop of Moray began payments to Alexander Stewart, Wolf of Badenoch, King Robert III's brother, for the protection of his lands and men. In February 1390, the bishop then turned to Thomas Dunbar, son of the Earl of Moray, to provide the protection. This action infuriated Stewart and in May he descended from his castle on an island in Lochindorb and burned the town of Forres in revenge. In June he burned much of Elgin, including two monasteries, St Giles Church, the Hospital of Maison Dieu and the cathedral. Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland (a 15th-century history of Scotland) described this action by "wyld, wykked Heland-men". The rebuilding of the cathedral took many years; but much of it has since crumbled away due to the inferior quality of the stone made available to the 15th and 16th century masons, while the 13th century construction still remains. In 1506, the great central tower collapsed and although rebuilding work began the next year it was not completed till 1538.
The citizens of Elgin and surrounding areas did not seem to object to the new religion following the Reformation. In 1568 the lead was stripped from the roof of the cathedral, by order of the Privy Council of Scotland. The lead was to be sold and the proceeds to go to the maintenance of Regent Moray's soldiers, but the ship taking the lead cargo to Holland sank almost immediately on leaving Aberdeen harbour. Without this protection the building began to deteriorate. In 1637, the rafters over the choir were blown down and in 1640 the minister of St Giles along with the Laird of Innes and Alexander Brodie of Brodie, all ardent Covenanters, removed and destroyed the ornately carved screen and woodwork that had remained intact. The tracery of the West window was destroyed sometime between 1650 and 1660 by Cromwell's soldiers. On Easter Sunday 1711 the central tower collapsed for the second time in its history, but caused much more damage. The rubble was quarried for various projects in the vicinity until 1807 when, through the efforts of Joseph King of Newmill, a wall was built around the cathedral and a keeper's house erected. Mountains of this rubble were cleared by one John Shanks, enabling visitors to view the ornate stonemasonry. John was presented with an ornate snuffbox by the authorities, it is now in Elgin Museum, he is also honoured with a large tombstone in the eastern Cathedral precincts.
When Daniel Defoe toured Scotland in 1717, he visited Elgin and said:
In this rich country is the city, or town rather, of Elgin; I say city, because in antient time the monks claim'd it for a city; and the cathedral shews, by its ruins, that it was a place of great magnificence. Nor must it be wonder'd at, if in so pleasant, so rich, and so agreeable a part of the country, all the rest being so differing from it, the clergy should seat themselves in a proportion'd number, seeing we must do them the justice to say, that if there is any place richer and more fruitful, and pleasant than another, they seldom fail to find it out. As the country is rich and pleasant, so here are a great many rich inhabitants, and in the town of Elgin in particular; for the gentlemen, as if this was the Edinburgh, or the court, for this part of the island, leave their Highland habitations in the winter and come and live here for the diversion of the place and plenty of provisions; and there is, on this account, a great variety of gentlemen for society, and that of all parties and of all opinions. This makes Elgin a very agreeable place to live in, notwithstanding its distance, being above 450 measur'd miles [725 km] from London, and more, if we must go by Edinburgh.
Unquestionably, the cathedral was, and still is, a magnificent building, worthy of its description as the Lantern of the North. When Bishop Bur wrote to King Robert III, complaining of the wanton destruction done to the building by the King's brother, the Wolf of Badenoch, he describes the cathedral as "the ornament of this district, the glory of the kingdom and the admiration of foreigners." Chambers, in his Picture of Scotland, says:
It is an allowed fact, which the ruins seem still to attest, that this was by far the most splendid specimen of ecclesiastical architecture in Scotland, the abbey church of Melrose not excepted. It must be acknowledged that the edifice last mentioned is a wonderful instance of symmetry and elaborate decoration; yet in extent, in loftiness, in impressive magnificence, and even in minute decoration, Elgin has been manifestly superior. Enough still remains to impress the solitary traveller with a sense of admiration mixed with astonishment.
Lachlan Shaw in his History of the Province of Moray was equally impressed when he wrote
the church when entire was a building of Gothic architecture inferior to few in Europe.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart travelled to Elgin from Inverness in March 1746 and, falling ill with a feverish cold, stayed for 11 days before returning to await the arrival of the king's army. He stayed in Elgin with Mrs Anderson, a passionate Jacobite, at Thunderton House. She kept the sheets that the Prince slept on and was buried in them a quarter of a century later. The Duke of Cumberland passed through the town on 13 April, camping at Alves on the way to meet the Prince in battle on Drummossie Muir. After the battle, William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock, one of the Prince's generals, was captured and taken to London and eventual execution, but he wrote to his friend from prison about his indebtedness to the shoemakers of Elgin:
Beside my personal debts mentioned in general and particular in the State, there is one for which I am liable in justice, if it is not paid, owing to poor people who gave their work for it by my orders. It was at Elgin in Murray, the Regiment I commanded wanted shoes. I commissioned something about seventy pair of shoes and brogues, which might come to 3 shillngs or three shillings and sixpence each, one with the other. The magistrates divided them among the shoemakers of the town and country, and each shoemaker furnished his proportion. I drew on the town, for the price, out of the composition laid on them, but I was afterwards told at Inverness that, it was believed, the composition was otherwise applied, and the poor shoemakers not paid. As these poor people wrought by my orders, it will be a great ease to my heart to think they are not to lose by me, as too many have done in the course of that year, but had I lived I might have made some inquiry after: but now it is impossible, as their hardships in loss of horses and such things, which happeened through my soldiers, are so interwoven with what was done by other people, that it would be very hard, if not impossible, to separate them. If you'll write to Mr Innes of Dalkinty at Elgin (with whom I was quartered when I lay there), he will send you an account of the shoes, and if they were paid to the shoemakers or no; and if they are not, I beg you'll get my wife, or my successors to pay them when they can ...
In the 19th century the old medieval town of Elgin was swept away. The first major addition to the town centre was the Assembly Rooms, built in 1821 by the Trinity Lodge of Freemasons, at the corner of High Street and North Street. In 1819, Dr Gray's Hospital was built on unused ground. The building has imposing columns and distinctive dome.
Dr Alexander Gray, a doctor who worked for and made his fortune with the East India Company, endowed £26,000 for the hospital. In 1828 the new parish church of St Giles was built at a cost of £10,000. Lt. General Andrew Anderson, born in Elgin, also of the East India Company, died in 1824 and bequeathed £70,000 to the town to found an institution for the welfare of the elderly poor and for the education of orphans. The Anderson Institute was built in the east end of the town in 1832 with accommodation for 50 children and 10 elderly people. The Burgh Court House was built in 1841, the museum in 1842 and the County Buildings in 1866.
The Morayshire Railway was officially opened in ceremonies at Elgin and Lossiemouth on 10 August 1852, the steam engines having been delivered to Lossiemouth by sea. It was the first railway north of Aberdeen and initially ran only 5 1⁄2 miles (9 km) between Elgin and Lossiemouth. It was later extended south to Craigellachie. The Great North of Scotland Railway took over the working of the line in 1863 and bought the company in 1881 following the Morayshire Railway's return to solvency from crippling debt. The railway and Lossiemouth harbour became very important to Elgin's economy.
The town was becoming prosperous, and by 1882 it had a Head Post Office with a savings bank, insurance and telegraph departments, and branches of the Bank of Scotland and the British Linen Company, Caledonian, Commercial, North of Scotland, Royal and Union Banks, and the National Securities Savings Bank, offices or agencies of 48 insurance companies, five hotels and a newspaper. It was not until the 20th century, however, that the separate villages of Bishopmill and New Elgin would be incorporated into the town.
The modern town straddles the River Lossie, with the suburbs of Bishopmill to the north and New Elgin to the south. Permo-Triassic rocks, rare in Scotland, are commonly found around Elgin. These are composed of aeolian sandstone formed when this area was subjected to desert conditions. Quarry Wood, on the town's edge, has a formation nicknamed Cuttie's Hillock which produced the internationally known fossils called the Elgin Reptiles. In the Elgin district, boulders belonging to the lowest group of Jurassic strata, Oxford clay and chalk are found both in glacial deposits and on the surface of the ground. The largest of these deposits is at Linksfield, where limestone and shale lie on boulder clay. There is a large hill in downtown Elgin, often viewed as the highlight of the Elgin tourist trail.
Elgin's climate is temperate maritime, with cool summers and relatively mild winters due to its proximity to the sea. Rainfall is quite low as it is in the rain shadow of mountains to the west and southwest.
Source: Moray Council from 2001 Census data
Elgin's population in 1901 was 8460
The Elgin – Forres – Lossiemouth triangle is heavily dependent on Royal Air Force stations for employment of civilians. In 2005, RAF Lossiemouth along with its neighbour RAF Kinloss contributed £156.5 million (including civilian expenditure) to the Moray economy, of which £76.6 million was retained and spent locally. The bases provide, directly or indirectly, 21% of all employment in the area, although in 2010 the closure of RAF Kinloss had a significant effect on these numbers. Aware of the impact that the Air Force has on the area’s economy, the local population instigated a long campaign to save RAF Lossiemouth, the future of which was also in doubt. How much of an influence this had upon the government’s and Ministry of Defence’s final decision is uncertain, but the base was ultimately saved and RAF Leuchars instead faced the axe as part of the same Strategic Defence and Security Review. RAF Leuchars will now become, like RAF Kinloss, an army base. Other areas offering significant employment are local authority, construction and real estate, food and drink, tourism, transport, business services and wholesale/retail.
In a recent study, Elgin was shown to be one of the most expensive towns in which to buy property in Scotland.
Elgin is in the Moray (Westminster) constituency of The United Kingdom Parliament which returns a Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons, at Westminster.
Elgin is in the Moray constituency of the Scottish Parliament which has slightly different boundaries to the UK Parliament constituency of the same name. The constituency returns a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) to Holyrood and is part of the Highlands and Islands electoral region.see also List of Provosts of Elgin
see also Moray council election, 2007
Following the reorganisation of local government in Scotland, Elgin now has 2 multi-member wards, each with 3 councillors. These wards are Elgin North and Elgin South.
Elgin is situated on the A96 trunk route which connects the cities of Aberdeen and Inverness. Heavy traffic through the town causes serious congestion. Scottish transport minister Tavish Scott visited the town in August 2006 to look at the traffic management problems and to meet campaigners for a bypass. It is estimated that a bypass would remove about one third of traffic from Elgin's streets. The A941 runs from Lossiemouth through Elgin to Rothes, Craigellachie, Dufftown and Rhynie. Elgin railway station is operated by Abellio ScotRail. The railway also connects to Aberdeen and Inverness which have trains to other UK destinations. Elgin's bus station is operated mainly by Stagecoach, and provides services within Elgin and to other local towns as well as to Aberdeen and Inverness. There is a 'Jet' bus service which runs to the Inverness Airport at Dalcross, Inverness has flights to mainly UK destinations while Aberdeen airport has UK and international flights.Ark Childcare, Mosstowie
Jack 'n' Jill Pre-School Centre, Kinder House, 22 Wardend Place, New Elgin
Moray Leisure Centre Pre-School Nursery, Borough Briggs Road, Elgin
Magic Roundabout Pre-School Nursery, Thornhill Drive, Elgin
St Sylvesters Nursery
Bishopmill Primary School, Morriston Road, Bishopmill
East End Primary School, Institution Road
Greenwards Primary School, Edgar Road, New Elgin
New Elgin Primary School, Bezack Street, New Elgin
Seafield Primary School, Deanshaugh Terrace, Bishopmill
West End Primary School, Mayne Road
St Sylvester's RC Primary School, Abbey Street
Elgin Academy, Morriston Road, Bishopmill
Elgin High School, High School Drive, New Elgin
Gordonstoun School, Duffus, near Elgin
Moray College, Moray Street, Elgin, Moray
Dr Gray's Hospital
The Maryhill Health Centre.
Linkwood Medical at the Glassgreen Centre (Formerly the Victoria Crescet Medical Centre before its relocation in 2009)
Elgin Community Surgery, Highfield House.
The Oaks Hospice, Sherrifmill
The following denominations have places of worship in Elgin:
Church of ScotlandSt Giles', High Street
St Columba's South, Moss Street
Elgin High, North Guildry Street
Free Church of ScotlandFree Church, South Street
Baptist Union of ScotlandElgin Baptist Church, Reidhaven Street
Roman Catholic ChurchSt Sylvester's, Institution Road
Greyfriars Sisters of Mercy Convent in Elgin
Scottish Episcopal ChurchHoly Trinity, Trinity Place
Other denominationsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pansport Road
Jehovah's Witnesses, Linkwood
Calvary Christian Life Centre, Lesmurdie Road
True Jesus Church, Lesmurdie Road
Pentecostal Church of God, New Elgin Hall Annex
Brethren, Riverside Gospel Hall, North Street
Elgin Museum, 1 High Street
Elgin Library, Cooper Park
Elgin Golf Club, Hardhillock, Birnie Road
Glassgreen Golf Range, Birnie Road
Cooper Park: boating, pitch and putt, tennis
Moray Leisure Centre, Borough Briggs Road, containing swimming pool, ice rink and a gymnasium
Town Hall with auditorium for production of shows
Community Centre, Trinity Road: badminton
The Lantern Gallery, 18 South Guildry Street
Red Shoes Theatre and music venue, High Street
Elgin Youth Café, Francis Place
Moray Jazz Club, ground floor of the Elgin City Football Club, Borough Briggs Road
During the 1960s The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream and Dusty Springfield all performed at the Two Red Shoes dancehall and The Kinks played Elgin Town Hall. Oi Polloi performed at the Ocean Club on Batchen Street in April 2007, under a gazebo erected by local punks.
Formed in 1893, the town's only senior football club is Elgin City, who play at Borough Briggs stadium. They entered the Highland Football League in 1895 and won the league championship fourteen times. The club entered the Scottish Football League in season 2000–01 and currently compete in Division Two. Their home colours are black and white vertical stripes, black shorts and white socks. Past famous players for Elgin City include Andy Goram, Nicky Walker, Jimmy Johnstone and John McGinlay. Recently ex-Scotland players Brian Irvine and David Robertson have managed the club.
Two junior football sides, Bishopmill United and New Elgin, both currently compete in the Scottish Junior Football North Division Two while Moray Social, Golden Pheasant F.C. and Bishopmill Villa participate in the Moray District Welfare Football Association.
Moray RFC was established in 1923 and play their home games at Morriston Playing Fields.
Elgin Cricket Club play home games on the Cooper Park cricket pitch under the auspices of North of Scotland Cricket Association.
Elgin is home to the Moray Typhoons, a SNL team. They play their home games at the Moray Leisure Centre.
The Helgin Roller Derby team train regularly within Elgin. Landshut in Bavaria, Germany since 1956
Sheriff William Wiseman. born about 1300, ancestor of Bishop of the Dromore Diocese (County Down) of the Church of Ireland, Capel Wiseman, 1635–1683, of Hertfordshire, who was forced to flee to the Continent following the accession of James II to the English Throne in 1685.
Archbishop Mario Joseph Conti, born 20 March 1934. The Most Reverend Mario Conti is Archbishop Emeritus of Glasgow, in Scotland. He studied for the priesthood at The Scots College (Rome) and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Aberdeen in the Church of San Marcello al Corso, by Archbishop Luigi Traglia on 26 October 1958. He was parish priest in Caithness before becoming Bishop of Aberdeen, in 1977. In 2002, he was appointed to the archdiocese of Glasgow.
Steven John Pressley, born 11 October 1973 is a former Scottish international footballer who currently manages Coventry City F.C. in the Football League 1. He played as a defender, although he started out as a striker during his school days at Inverkeithing High School. He is often known by his nickname, Elvis.
General Andrew Anderson (1747–1824) Anderson was commissioned as an Ensign in 1766 in the army of the Honourable East India Company. He proved himself to be a fine officer progressing steadily through the ranks and by 1811 had reached the rank of Major General. It was possible to become very wealthy in the service as there were great prizes to be won and shared. Perhaps influenced by his own upbringing Andrew Anderson executed a Deed of Trust in 1815 by which he left £70,000 to the Sheriff and Magistrates and Clergy of the established church in Elgin to build and endow an Institution in Elgin to provide a home for fifty children where they would be educated sufficiently to enable them to earn a living. The Institution was also to give a home to ten aged persons. General Anderson died in 1824 in London aged 77 and in 1830 Elgin Town Council commenced building on the lands of Maisondieu. The fine building of the Elgin Institute for the support of Old Age and the education of Youth was opened in 1832.
Dr Alexander Gray (d 1807), worked as a surgeon for the East India Company. His will was contested by his family, but eventually his bequest of £26,000 'for the establishment of a hospital in the town of Elgin for the sick and poor of the county of Murray (Moray)' was proven in the Court of Chancery, and work on building the hospital took place between 1815 and 1818. The hospital opened on 1 January 1819.
John Grant (pipe-major) (1876-1961), lifelong enthusiaste of bagpiping, known especially for co-authoring "Pipes of War" with Sir Bruce Seton, "Piobaireachd: Its Origin and Construction," "The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd," "The Highland Bagpipe Instructor," and "The Silver Chanter." From 1896-1898 he walked 11 miles (18 km) one direction from Elgin to Fochabers twice weekly to study bagpiping with renowned Pipe-Major Ronald MacKenzie. In 1898 he became family piper to the William Stirling-Home-Drummond-Moray family in Abercairny. He moved to Edinburgh in 1902, where he remained the duration of his life. Recipients of some of his own piobaireachd compositions include Edward VII, George V, George VI, Elizabeth II, and many members of the nobility. See Link label
Lt William Rennie, (1822–1887) 90th Perthshire Light Infantry, awarded Victoria Cross at Lucknow during Indian Mutiny, 1857
William Dunbar (1749–1810) born in Thunderton House, Elgin. He was the youngest son of Sir Archibald Dunbar and Anne Bayne Dunbar. In 1763 he attended King's College, Aberdeen, and graduated from there in 1767. He emigrated to America arriving in Philadelphia in April 1771. In 1773 he and a Scottish merchant opened a cotton plantation in Florida and in 1792 opened another plantation in Mississippi. Dunbar became surveyor general in the Natchez area in 1798 and making his first meteorological observations in the Mississippi Valley in 1799. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him and fellow Scot Dr George Hunter to explore the Ouachita River region and travel all the way to the source of the Red River. They set out on 16 October 1804, traveling up the Ouachita River and on to the area of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Dunbar became the first man to give a scientific report of the hot springs, and his journal of the exploration was later published in Documents Relating to the Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana.
William Latimer Duff (1822–1894) was the son of the Reverend William Duff, Minister of the St Giles Kirk. He was a pupil of Elgin Academy before moving to London and setting up in business. Duff emigrated to America and worked as a Commission Agent. He joined the Union army at the outbreak of the civil war and was commissioned as an artillery officer and became Assistant Inspector General on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was not present at the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox as Grant had sent him on other duties. He left the army as Brigadier General of Volunteers on 13 March 1865 for his war service. He became U.S. Consul in Glasgow after the war until 1869 and then covered the Franco-Prussian war for the New York Herald and because of his military rank was accepted in Prussian Society and presented to the Kaiser Wilhelm I. He retired to Elgin where he died in 1894.
Alexander Brodie Spark (1792–1856) became a leading banker, merchant & landowner in New South Wales. His diaries provide an intimate and detailed account of the social and business ties among the Scottish merchants and settlers, who formed their own social set and circle.
Sir David Hardie (4 June 1856 – 11 November 1945) graduated as a doctor from Aberdeen University and practiced in Forres before emigrating to Australia and settling in Brisbane. He specialized in the diseases of women and children, particularly those arising from climate. In 1927 he became a founding fellow of the (Royal) Australasian College of Surgeons.
Kevin McKidd born August 1973 was a member of the successful Moray Youth Theatre, Kevin left Elgin for University in Edinburgh after school. However he dropped out to pursue an acting career which has seen him star in British classic Trainspotting, cult horror Dog Soldiers, the critically acclaimed Sixteen Years of Alcohol, as well as the HBO/BBC venture Rome and Ridley Scott's Crusade epic Kingdom of Heaven. He also currently stars in hit American TV drama, Grey's Anatomy. Besides that, he has voiced multiple characters from different video games such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. He is currently involved in Pixar's new movie releasing in 2012, Brave (2012 film).
Margaret Masson Hardie Hasluck MBE (born 18 June 1885 – September 1947) Author and Anthropologist. Niece of Sir David Hardie, and also of James "Scotty" Philip's two brothers Alexander & George Philip. She lived in Greece and Albania, and during WW2 was involved with SOE from their base in Cairo, Egypt. She was acquainted with the novelist Olivia Manning and is reputed to be the character of 'Mrs Brett' in Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy 'Fortunes of War'.
Frederick Fyvie Bruce (12 October 1910 – 11 September 1990) aka F.F. Bruce – Professor of Theology, author of numerous books and articles on theological subjects. He worked at Manchester and Sheffield Universities. Was a Fellow of the British Academy.
Chris Clark, Former Aberdeen and Plymouth Argyle football player
Niall Cameron, Scottish representative table tennis player
Leslie Benzies, video game editor and president of Rockstar North, a subsidiary of Rockstar Games. He is the lead developer of the iconic Grand Theft Auto series, taking responsibility from GTA III onwards.
Masataka Taketsuru, Japanese whisky industry founder