The County of Moray may be famous for whiskey distilleries, but it is also a perfect place for anybody looking for fascinating historic sites. The scenic countryside is dotted with medieval ruins of castles and monasteries, but it also houses attractions with links to the Industrial Revolution.
Here are 8 of the best historic sites in Moray.
1. Elgin Cathedral
This 13th-century church has been for centuries a symbol of the town of Elgin. The structure fell into disrepair following the Protestant Reformation, with the roof and central tower collapsing. The site is today a well preserved ruin, that is also the home of the tallest gravestone in Scotland (5 meters high).
The ruins are open to visitors, though it is recommended to book your visit in advance.
2. Spynie Palace
Spynie Palace is the largest surviving bishop’s house in Scotland. For 500 years the bishops of Moray resided in this magnificent structure, hosting many famous figures from history. The oldest current buildings are from the 14th century, though previous structures were from the 12th century. The site also houses the largest tower house by volume in Scotland.
The Palace entered a period of decline in the 17th century, becoming the now-iconic ruin that can be seen today. The complex is open to visitors from May to September.
3. The Old Bridge of Livet
The remains of this 18th-century bridge have become one with the surrounding nature, providing a haunting, yet romantic site for explorers. One can find the structure roughly halfway between Blairfindy Castle and Drumin Castle. Because of its condition, it is not recommended to climb up the old bridge.
4. Knockando Woolmill
For 230 years the Knockando Woolmill has been a centre of production. Since 1784 the site has been manufacturing woollen blankets and traditional tweeds. To this day visitors can see the mill in full action and buy some of the products produced there in their local shop.
5. Brodie Castle
The ancestral home of the Brodie clan was erected in the mid 16th century. The building was expanded in the 17th century and during the Victorian era. The building is the home of an extensive collection of paintings, antique furniture and the biggest bunny sculpture in Scotland.
During springtime visitors can enjoy the magnificent displays of daffodils. The estate grounds are perfect for observing wildlife with observation hides being dotted across the walkways. Visitors can also find a Pictish monument known as ‘Rodney’s Stone’.
6. Covesea Lighthouse
Covesea Lighthouse has been standing in its picturesque location since 1846. The site is also home to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Heritage Centre. Tours to the Lighthouse are by appointment only, so it is a good idea to check availability at least two days in advance.
7. Balvenie Castle
The once formidable stronghold has a history spanning 500 years. The original fortification was built in the 12th century, making it one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. The Earl’s of Atholl transformed the structure from a medieval dwelling to a renaissance residence. In the early 18th century the building was abandoned, slowly decaying to its current ruined formed.
The castle is open to the public from the beginning of April to the end of September. One can find the former fortification near Dufftown.
8. Pluscarden Abbey
Located close to the town of Elgin, Pluscarden Abbey is a fully functional Catholic Benedictine monastery. The religious complex was originally set up around 1230 and dismantled in 1587 following the arrival of the Protestant reformation in Scotland. The building fell into ruin until the late 19th century, when restoration works started taking place. The monastery was re-established in 1948.