Diocese of Moray

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
Head   Bishop of Moray
Archdeacon(s)   Archdeacon of Moray
Known rural deans   Elgin, Inverness, Strathbogie, Strathspey
First attestation   1114 x 1120
Metropolitan before 1472   None
Metropolitan after 1492   Archbishop of St Andrews
Cathedral   Elgin Cathedral
Previous cathedral(s)   Birnie, Kinneddar and Spynie
Dedication   Holy Trinity
Canons   Secular
Catholic successor   Merged into resurrected Diocese of Aberdeen, March 4, 1878
Episcopal successor   Diocese 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. These 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

Bishop Bricius de Douglas finally obtained papal permission on 7 April 1206 to fix the cathedral at the Church of the Holy Trinity at Spynie.[1] 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.[2] It is possible that this decision may have been influenced by the fact that Bricius’ immediate predecessor was Bishop Richard de Lincoln.

Elgin Cathedral

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.[3] It was not until after his death, however, that this was achieved under the episcopate of Bishop Andreas de Moravia.[4] This transference took place with the authority of Pope Honorius III and King Alexander II on 19 July 1224.[5]

Bishops of Moray

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.[6] Other Bishops made a lasting impact on the diocese and probably the most important of these was Alexander Bur 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.[7] 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

Extent of the diocese

Map showing the Diocese, Province and Earldom 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 churches for the church.

Deaneries of Diocese of Moray
Deanery Parishes
Elgin Altyre, Alves, Ardclach, Auldearn, Birnie, Dallas, Dipple, Drainie, Duffus, Dundurkas, Dyke, Edinkillie, Elgin, Essil, Forres, Kinneddar, Lhanbryde, Moy, Ogstoun, Rafford, Rothes, Spynie, St Andrews, Urquhart
Inverness Abertarf, Abriachan, Barevan, Boleskine, Brackla, Conveth, Croy, Dalarossie, Daviot, Dores, Ferneway, Inverness, Kintallirgy, Lunan, Lundichty, Petty, Wardlaw
Strathbogie Aberchirder, Aberlour, Ardintullie, Bellie, Botary, Botriphnie, Drumdelgie, Essie, Gartly, Glass, Huntly, Inverkethney, Keith, Kilreny, Kynnor, Rothymay
Strathspey Abernethy, Advie, Alvie, Cromdale, Duthil, Elchies, Inch, Innerallian, Inveravon, Kincardine, Kingussie, Kirkmichael, Knockando, Laggan, Rothiemurchas


  1. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no.46
  2. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses, nos. 48, 49 and 93
  3. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no. 45
  4. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses nos.26, 57 and 58
  5. ^ Cant, Robert: Historic Elgin and its Cathedral, Elgin Society, Elgin, 1974, p. 23
  6. ^ Registrium Episcacopatus Moravienses no. 81
  7. ^ 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

Dioceses of Medieval Scotland
Aberdeen | Argyll | Brechin | Caithness | Dunblane | Dunkeld | Galloway | Glasgow | Isles (Sodor) | Moray | Orkney | Ross | St Andrews

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