Diocese of Moray

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Coordinates: 57°21′36″N 3°46′59″W / 57.360°N 3.783°W / 57.360; -3.783

Diocese of Moray
Diocese of Moray.jpg
HeadBishop of Moray
Archdeacon(s)Archdeacon of Moray
Known rural deansElgin, Inverness, Strathbogie, Strathspey
First attestation1114 x 1120
Metropolitan before 1472None
Metropolitan after 1492Archbishop of St Andrews
CathedralElgin Cathedral
Previous cathedral(s)Birnie, Kinneddar and Spynie
DedicationHoly Trinity
Catholic successorMerged into resurrected Diocese of Aberdeen, 4 March 1878
Episcopal successorDiocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness

The Diocese of Moray was one of the most important of the medieval dioceses in Scotland.


It was founded in the early years of the 12th century by David I of Scotland under its first bishop, Gregoir. It was suppressed in 1638 and never revived a s a titular see.

Bishops of Moray[edit]

Bishop Bricius organised the constitution of the church, but it was Bishop Andreas who increased the number of dignitaries and prebend canons and was responsible for gaining large grants of land from his kinsmen, the powerful de Moravia lords, as well as the king. In the year of his death, Andreas changed the cathedral's constitution to that of Salisbury.[1]

Other Bishops made a lasting impact on the diocese and probably the most important of these was Alexander Bur (1362—1397), who championed the right of the Moray church to retain its property against a ruthless magnate, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan and called the Wolf of Badenoch.[2]

Apparently the see served repeatedly as stepping stone:

The last of the Roman Catholic bishops was Patrick Hepburn, who alienated almost all of the lands pertaining to the church at the time of the Scottish Reformation.

Other officials[edit]

Extent and Deaneries[edit]

The deaneries of Moray

The diocese covered a large area extending from Huntly in the east, within a few miles of the Knoydart Peninsula in the west and, in the south-west, to the Atlantic Ocean at an inlet of Loch Linnhe in Lochaber.

It was divided into the four deaneries of Elgin, Inverness, Strathbogie and Strathspey. Each of these deaneries contained a number of parishes that provided the mensal and prebendal means for the church.

Deaneries of Diocese of Moray
Deanery Parishes
Elgin Altyre, Alves, Auldearn, Birnie, Dallas, Dipple, Duffus, Dundurkas, Dyke, Elgin, Essil, Forres, Fothervays (now Edinkillie), Kinneddar, Lhanbryde, Logie Fythenach (now Ardclach), Moy, Ogstoun, Rafford, Rothes, Spynie, Urquhart
Inverness Abertarff, Abriachan, Brackley (now Brackla), Convinth, Croy, Dalarossie, Dalcross, Daviot, Dores, Ewan (or Barevan, now Cawdor) Ferneway, Inverness, Kintallirgy, Lunnin (now Moy), Lundechty (now Dunlichity), Petty, Wardlaw (now Kirkhill)
Strathbogie Aberchirder (now Marnoch), Aberlour, Arndilly (now Boharm), Botary, Botriphnie, Drumdelgie, Dunbennan, Edendiack, Essie, Grantully (now Gartly), Glass, Inverkethney, Keith, Kinnoir, Rothiemay, Ruthven, Rhynie
Strathspey Abernethy, Advie, Alvie, Cromdale, Duthil, Insh, Inverallan, Inveravon, Kincardine, Kingussie, Logie Kenny (now Laggan), Rothiemurcus


The early Moray bishops did not have a fixed seat but took their cathedrals to the culdee centres at Birnie, Kinneddar and lastly Spynie.

Spynie Cathedral[edit]

Bishop Bricius de Douglas finally obtained permission from Pope Innocent III on 7 April 1206 to fix the cathedral at the Church of the Holy Trinity at Spynie.[3]

Authorisation was also granted to create a chapter of eight canons to administer the cathedral. The chapter based its constitution on that of Lincoln Cathedral.[4] It is possible that this decision may have been influenced by the fact that Bricius' immediate predecessor was Bishop Richard de Lincoln.

Elgin Cathedral[edit]

Bricius saw that Spynie was too remote from those it sought to serve and, with a need to ensure the safety of the clergy, petitioned the pope to grant the moving of the church to relative safety of Elgin.[5]

It was not until after his death, however, that this was achieved under the episcopate of Bishop Andreas de Moravia.[6] This transference took place with the authority of Pope Honorius III and King Alexander II on 19 July 1224.[7]


  1. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no. 81
  2. ^ Discussion on the quarrel, see: Grant, Alexander: The Wolf of Badenoch in Moray: Province and People; ed. Seller, W D H, Edinburgh, pp. 143—161; Oram, Richard D: Alexander Bur, Bishop of Moray, 1362—1397 in Barbera Crawford (ed) Church Chronicle and Learning in Medieval and Early Renaissance Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999, pp. 202—204
  3. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no.46
  4. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses, nos. 48, 49 and 93
  5. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no. 45
  6. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses nos.26, 57 and 58
  7. ^ Cant, Robert: Historic Elgin and its Cathedral, Elgin Society, Elgin, 1974, p. 23

Sources and references[edit]