Town Seal of the Royal Burgh of Elgin
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Town Seal of the Royal Burgh of Elgin

The administrative centre of Moray, the royal burgh of Elgin lies on a bend of the River Lossie, 26 miles (42 km) east of Inverness. Known locally as a city because of its ruined cathedral, Elgin was named after Helgyn, the Norse general who founded it in the 10th Century. It was one of the first Scots burghs created in the 12th century by David I and received a further royal charter from Alexander II. In 1224, it became the cathedral seat of the bishopric of Moray when the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was finally given a permanent site. Occupying a strategic site on the route from Aberdeen to Inverness, its ruined castle was the reputed scene of the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth.

Most of Elgin's buildings were erected after the suppression of the Jacobite Risings of the 18th century, but a few earlier structures include Alexander Leslie's 17th-century Tower, Braco's Banking House (1684), and Thunderton House, built in the 16th century as a 'Great Lodging' of the Scottish kings to replace the castle. The first cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1270 and its successor was razed to the ground in 1390 by Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch. Fine buildings from the Georgian era include the neoclassical Gray's Hospital (1815-19) and the Elgin Institution (1830-33).

Following the arrival of the railway in the mid 19th century, the size of the burgh doubled. New Elgin to the south was created as a working class suburb while the middle-class suburb of Bishopsmill grew up to the north. Elgin Academy, originally founded in 1566, moved to its present site in the 1960s and a College of Further Education erected on the site occupied by the school since 1885. A garden featuring all 110 plants mentioned in the Bible opened in 1996. Today the town thrives as a centre of administration, education, tourism and trade with agricultural service and textile industries. Johnstons of Elgin have been producing fine fabrics since 1797, remains family-owned and now employees more than 1000 people here and in a knitwear mill in Hawick.

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