The ornament of the realm, the glory of the kingdom,
the delight of foreigners and stranger guests,
an object of praise in foreign lands.
"The Lantern of the North"
After having spent the morning at Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns, we headed east near the coast for town of Elgin, in Moray Scotland. Because we had run out of time to see the ruins of the Border Cathedrals, I was not about to miss Elgin!
It's only 34 miles on the A96 and should have taken less than an hour from Culloden Moor. I'm not sure why but we hit some traffic and it took longer than we'd planned.
My Travel Journal
Anyway, when we arrived the nice man at the cathedral directed us to a place to park and eat. He did this while standing in the rain. I noticed this happened a lot in Scotland. You would go inside and ask for directions and they'd follow you out and stand there in the rain giving you directions. It cracked me up! Why not stand in the doorway? I'm guessing they are used to it but it was still amusing.
Anyway, he directed us into the park next to the Cathedral for tea and snacks and then we walked back over. I've mentioned in previous posts the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. This is another landmark in which that pass gives you entry. It was definitely worth it!
A beautiful Gaelic lament for the post. Please press play.
Elgin Cathedral was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and was the principal church of the bishops of Moray. The Land was granted by King Alexander II (King of Scots from 1214-1249) close to the River Lossie.
It was expanded and rebuilt after fires in the late 13th and 14th centuries but it was abandoned after the Scottish Reformation of 1560. The lead that waterproofed the roof was removed 7 years later and then it began to fall into a state of ruin.
Even in its present state of ruin you can see it is one of Scotland's most beautiful medieval architectural works. Somehow the weather during our visit made it feel even more lovely and poetic.
When you enter into the cathedral there is an exhibition of old stonework and this guy below, if you craned your neck, had all his anatomical parts. It was too dimly lit for a photo so you'll have to use your imagination! (Besides, wouldn't that be unseemly?)
An old Pictish stone from the 800s found nearby!
Apparently, you can walk up stairs into that front part of the church (above) for a view of the ruins and of the town but we were content to wander in the ruins until they closed up for the day.
There were only a few visitors that day and it was nice to be there when it was so quiet. It felt like a sacred space.
The Chapter House
There was medieval music playing inside. It felt very mystical!
My mom and I stood by the center column, closed our eyes and sang an "om" into the rafters ...
She took this photo of me (below). In fact, some of these photos were hers. I'd ended up using my iPhone quite a bit and she would take the big Digital SLR camera to shoot with.
And then we were off again, through the park ...
The park was lush and wet with pretty blooms ...
Elgin looked like a cute town to explore and just south are the Scotch distilleries of Speyside. In fact, there are busses you can take down to some of the distilleries so if you are staying in Elgin that would be safe way to go. The drinking and driving laws in Scotland are very strict!
We headed back to Inverness in the rain. It was our last night in the area before heading west to the Isle of Skye so it was a perfect evening for an incredible dinner at Rocpool. Quite possibly our best meal of the trip! (Don't forget to call ahead for a reservation!)
As I mentioned in my first post of the Highlands, I felt I could live there for a while, in Inverness. I hope that I can go back one day.
Elgin Cathedral- Historic Environment Scotland
Pictish Slab - Canmore.org
Explorer Pass - Historic Scotland
Sorry for the absence, by the way! I got very sidetracked! My next post will be leaving Inverness, an authentic Highland Games and the glorious drive through Glen Shiel!
Blessings and light!