Zoom into Moray

Collated by Moray Teale.

Moray is situated in the north-east of Scotland and borders the Aberdeenshire and Highland council areas. Until 1996 Moray was also part of the Grampian Region. Moray has a varied landscape from the Moray Firth and largely flat coastline, to the hilly interior and several lochs. The River Spey runs through much of the area, which is famous for its whiskies and contains more than half of Scotland’s distilleries. 

The county town is the market town of Elgin on the River Lossie. Elgin was founded in the thirteenth century and still retains much of the original medieval street plan. Elgin Cathedral was first established in 1224 by Bishop Andreas de Moravia on land granted by Alexander II. It suffered major fires in 1270, 1390 and 1402 and was abandoned during the Scottish Reformation. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries work was done to stabilise the ruins. Kinloss Abbey and Pluscarden Abbey are other striking examples of Scottish churches in the area and Pluscarden has been largely restored since 1948.  

Moray is also notable for its Pictish history. Burghead Promontory Fort, a Pictish fortress, was occupied from the late 300s to the late 800s at the heart of the kingdom of Fortriu and is the largest of its kind in Scotland. Forres in the east of the county is home to several impressive Pictish stones including Sueno’s Stone, standing at 21 feet high. 

Lots of interesting and unusual wildlife makes its home in and around Moray from bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth and ospreys in Findhorn Bay, to grey seals in Portgorgdon and even the occasional golden eagle in the uplands. 

Where to find local collections:  

Local Heritage Service, Elgin Library 


Some Moray archives are administered by Aberdeen City, Aberdeen 


Books – non fiction  

Registrum episcopatus Moraviensis e pluribus codicibus consarcinatum circa A.D. MCCC, cum continuatione diplomatum recentiorum usque ad A.D. MDCXXIII edited by Cosmo Innes, 1837. [In Publications by Scottish Clubs]  


Bagimond’s roll for the diocese of Moray, edited by Charles Burns, 1965. [in Scottish History Society Publications


Surveys of harbour (common) and grey seals on the east, north and north-west coast of Scotland and in Orkney, including the Moray Firth and the Firth of Tay, in August 2013. SNH commissioned report no.759, by C.D. Duck and C.D. Morris, 2014.


Book – fiction 

Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, 1788. [In Antiquarian Books of Scotlandhttps://digital.nls.uk/106697628


Moray Sea School, 1950. [In Moving Image Archivehttps://movingimage.nls.uk/film/1470

Elgin Gala Week, 1950 https://movingimage-onsite.nls.uk/film/1468

Manuscript collection 

The Hutton Drawings, Vol. 1, compiled by George Henry Hutton, 1799-1806. [In Hutton Drawings, Adv.MS.30.5.22]. The Hutton Drawings contain over 500 drawing, maps, plans and prints mainly relating to Scottish churches and ecclesiastical buildings. They were created largely between 1781-1792 and 1811-1820 and were compiled by George Henry Hutton, a professional soldier and amateur antiquary.  



[Pont’s Map of Elgin and Northeast Moray] by Timothy Pont, c.1583-1596. [In Pont Maps of Scotland.] This map shows Elgin and its environs and was once believed to have been drawn by Robert Gordonhttps://maps.nls.uk/view/00002341

Moravia Scotiæ Provincia by Joan Blaeu, 1662 [In Blaeu Atlas Minor vol. 6https://maps.nls.uk/atlas/blaeu-maior/browse/6/page/117

Banffshire III.5 (Cullen), 1868 [In Ordnance Survey 25-inch to the mile, first editionhttps://maps.nls.uk/view/75199958

An e-resource 

Queen Victoria’s Journals, 1837-1901. [in e-resources, History, Biography and Genealogy.] Queen Victoria’s journals record details of her many trips to Scotland, including numerous references to towns and places in Moray such as Tomintoul, the Cairngorms and Dufftownhttps://auth.nls.uk/eresources/goto/176 

A business  

Northern Scot, Elgin, 1980. [In Moving Image Archive.  A film about the centenary of the Northern Scot Newspaper published by the Moray and Nairn Newspaper Company Limited. Clips include printing presses and typesetters at work.] 


Raymond Press1967-1997. [In Catalogue of Archives and Manuscripts] An inventory of papers relating to the Raymond Private Press, based in Cullen. 


A person  

Awa tae the sea, Cullen, Moray, by Frieda Morrison and John George Addison. [In Moving Image Archive] John George Addison talks about his life as a fisherman in a short film. 


James Stewart, first earl of Moray, by Mark Loughlin. [In e-resources, Oxford Dictionary of National BiographyNLS login required] 


A song or piece of music 

The Bonnie Earl of Moray, compiled by Robert Archibald Smith, 1820-1824. [In Glen Collection of Printed Music] This popular Scottish Ballad commemorates the death of James Stewart, the second Earl of Moray. Moray was murdered by his rival George Gordon, the Earl of Huntly in 1592 as part of a long family feud. The original date of the ballad is unknown but it thought to have been the seventeenth century. 


A ghost/mythical creature 

The Peat-Fire Flame, by Alasdair Alpin MacGragor, 1937. [In Ossian Collection] This collection of stories contains local legends about a witch and his familiars at Loch Spynie and a Merman in Portgordon.  



A castle or other historic building  

An engraving of Castle Gordon, Scotia Depictaby James Fittler, 1804 [In Digital Gallery, Scottish Placeshttps://digital.nls.uk/74582264  


Notebook in several hands containing culinary, household and medical recipes, by Jean Robinson, 1749-1750. [In Recipes from Scotland 1680s-1940sInscribed ‘Pastry Book Elgin 20th August 1734’ (folio 1) and ‘Jean Robinson, 23rd January 1749/50’ (folio 15)]  https://digital.nls.uk/102697144  

A photograph 

Pluscarden Abbey, View from E. [In Canmore, Historic Buildings and Monuments/Scottish Development Department photographs – External Resourcehttps://canmore.org.uk/collection/1201668

Findhorn Bay and Moray Firth from Nelson Monument, Forres, [In University of St. Andrews Photographic Database – External Resourcehttps://collections.st-andrews.ac.uk/item/findhorn-bay-and-moray-firth-from-nelson-monument-forres/96499  

Something about the county town 

Elgin charcity day, 1933. [In Moving Image Archive. Events include a football match, a float parade and sports]  https://movingimage.nls.uk/film/1466

The Records of Elgin, compiled by William Cramond, 1908, [In Publications by Scottish Clubshttps://digital.nls.uk/81574507

Execution at Elgin1810. [in Word on the Street]  


Something about a village or small place 

Gordon Book edited by John Malcolm Bulloch, 1902. [In Histories of Scottish Families] Fochabers was the site of a free school established in 1846 using a bequest left by Alexander Milne, a Scottish-American entrepreneur. https://digital.nls.uk/95254795  

Further reading:

The doocots of Moray by Elizabeth Beaton, 1978 [In Library Search] https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21551318290004341  

Moray past and present: a collection of photographs old and new by Mike Seton, 1978 [In Library Searchhttps://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21454450510004341  

 Trees for the traveller a monthly selection of trees in Moray between the Findhorn and the Spey by Alistair Scott, 1984 [In Library Search]   https://search.nls.uk/permalink/f/sbbkgr/44NLS_ALMA21459099020004341