See for yourself why Elgin Cathedral earned the name the ‘Lantern of the North’. Even as a ruin, the cathedral shines out as one of Scotland’s most ambitious and beautiful medieval buildings.
Begun in 1224, Elgin was the principal church of the bishops of Moray. It lost its roof shortly after the Protestant Reformation of 1560, and later its central tower fell. But the cathedral’s fortunes began to change when it became a visitor attraction in the early 1800s.
What to see and do
- Gaze up at the wonderful 13th-century west front, one of the finest architectural achievements in Scotland
- Stand by the stone bishop in the nave, a larger-than-life statue that looks like a giant chess piece
- Step inside the octagonal chapter house, where the cathedral clergy met, to see its stone carvings of beasts and faces
- Seek out Scotland’s tallest gravestone – placed against the south choir aisle, for the Anderson family, it stands 5m high
- View a rare image of Pictish falconry on the Pictish cross slab, found on the site of St Giles Parish Church
- Study the cathedral’s carved stones in a new exhibition in the cathedral towers
- Guided tours run daily throughout July and August at 10.00am, 2.00pm and 3.30pm (Please note: the 3.30pm tour is for the Bishops House only and must be booked in advance via 01343 547 171).
Elgin Stones Exhibition
View Elgin Cathedral’s impressive collection of more than 100 medieval stones in a new light. This exhibition puts the stones on public display for the first time in 20 years. Among the highlights is the effigy of Bishop Archibald, brought back to its former glory with stunning light effects.
The exhibition features carvings of expressive faces, flora and fauna – from lions to lizards – and a section of a rose window dating to the 1200s. Fragments of medieval window glass from the cathedral, on loan from the Moray Society, are also on display.
Come and explore the messages that might be contained within the carvings. We’ll never have all the answers, especially as we don’t know where the stones sat within the cathedral. What do you think these carvings may have meant to medieval visitors? Tell us what you think on Twitter #elgincarvings.”