Elgin, the administrative and commercial capital of Moray, has a long and fascinating history, still reflected today in the buildings and layout of the town. It grew up on a low ridge between the loops of the River Lossie, and by the thirteenth century, when it was created a Royal Burgh by Alexander II, was a thriving town with its castle atop Lady Hill to the west, and the great Cathedral to the east.
Elgin Cathedral was founded in 1224 as the seat of the Diocese of Moray, which had previously been at Kinneddar, Birnie and Spynie. In 1390 the notorious “Wolf of Badenoch“, son of King Robert II, quarrelled with Bishop Alexander Bur, who excommunicated him. In revenge he burned the Cathedral and the towns of Elgin and Forres. The Cathedral was rebuilt and continued in use until reformation. In 1567 the lead was stripped from the roof by order of the Privy Council and Regent Moray and the process of decay began. On Easter Sunday 1711 the great central tower fell, and by the end of the eighteenth century the once-magnificent Cathedral was being used as a quarry for building stone. In 1825, however, the Exchequer assumed responsibility for the preservation of the structure, and restoration work is still going on under the auspices of Historic Scotland.
The mediaeval street plan of Elgin is well preserved. The main street widens to the old cobbled market place, now known as the Plainstones, and is linked to parallel streets by a series of narrow wynds and pends. A few buildings still retain the arched facades which were typical of early eighteenth century Elgin.
Today, Elgin is a regional hub which despite its small size remains vital for the areas commercial and social needs.