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In 1568 the Privy Council, under Regent Murray, at a moment of exigence when the troops were ill paid, resorted to the notable expedient of robbing this Cathedral and that of Aberdeen of their leaden roofs, "appointing the lead to be taken from the Cathedral churches in Elgyne and Aberdeen, sauld and disponit upon, for the sustenation of the men of weir." It is said, however, that the ship containing the sacrilegious cargo was lost on its voyage to Holland. Again, in 1640, a band of local barons and clergy destroyed the paintings and the roodscreen, the last remaining traces of the Cathedral's ancient internal decorations. To crown all, the great central tower and spire, which, after its fall in 1506, had been rebuilt to the height of 198 feet, fell a second time, on Easter Day, 1711; and down to a late date the ruins were made a quarry by the inhabitants, out of which to build houses and dykes; so much so, that almost all between the front towers and east wall of the transepts, and many other parts beyond, have entirely disappeared. It is said that the first person who took any notice of the Cathedral was the late Joseph King, of Newmill, provost of Elgin from 1806 to 1809, who caused it to be enclosed with a stone wall. The late Mr. Isaac Forsyth also got repeated grants from the Exchequer for repairs to the venerable building. At last the Crown claimed it in 1820, and has since kept it in order; and the precincts, with the churchyard around, are well enclosed.
The building, which is generally in the Early English style, was originally 289 feet long; the nave and cloister, 87 feet broad; and the choir and cloister, 79 feet. The principal door is on the wost, between two massive towers 84 feet high. The arch of this grand entrance presents some beautiful and delicately chiselled ornaments, in a much earlier style of architecture than that of the recorded date of the foundation—a style also to bo found in other parts of the building, and sometimes overtopping, as in the south tranoept, later work.
The most complete remaining part of the building is the chapter-house, entering from the north side of the choir. It is called the "'Prentice Aisle," and it has a tradition similar to that told of the well-known pillar in Roslin. The chapter-house is octagonal in form: "In the centre a beautiful flowered and clustered pillar sends forth, tree-like, as it approaches the roof, its branches to the different angles, each with its peculiar incrustation of rich decorations and its grotesque corbel;!" Upon the pillar is the stone or desk to which the Scriptures were chained in old times; and the capital is decorated with the armorial bearings of the Stewarts (by a bishop of which name the chapter-house is said to have been built) and those of Scotland, together with carvings of the Passion of our Lord, etc. Seven of the sides are lighted by windows; the eighth contains the door opening from the cloister alongside of the choir. Some interesting old monuments are here; also fragments of carved stones, upon one of which, resting upon the moon, is a witch astride a broom! Between the chapter-house and the north cloister are the remains of the vestry and the small sacristy, containing a lavatory, the rim of which is beautifully carved into leaves. It formed the cradle (and no mean one either) of the baby of a poor demented mother, Marjory Gilzean, who took up her home in the ruins, and whose child became the brave General Anderson, the founder of the noble institution in the city that bears his name. Passing from this to the ehoir wo enter the chancel, with its splendid double row of lancet windows, under which stood the high altar and the tomb of the founder. Adjoining is St. Mary's Aisle, the burial-place of the ducal family of Gordon, where, in 1836, George, the fifth and last duke, was interred, as was also his duchess Elizabeth Brodie in 1864. There are several tombs hero: the centre one on the east with recumbent figuro is that of the first Marquis of Huntly, who defeated the Earl of Crawford at Brechin. It bears date 1470.
In a recess opposite arc the tomb and effigy of Bishop Winchester (143758), and upon the arch above it angels are represented, in red outline, with much of the grace and style of the early Italian masters. In the south transept are two other recessed tombs with effigies; also several interesting fragments of statues, one of which, with crozier in hand, is said to represent Bishop Innes (1407-14), the founder of the (now lost) great middle tower. A broken stone coffin is shown as that in which the body of King Duncan was first buried, after his murder by Macbeth, near Duffus. The sculptured stone in a line with the north wall of the nave, embellished with a cross, a hunting scene, and curious symbols, was found while levelling the High Street of Elgin in 1823. It is figured on plate 16, vol. i., of the "Sculptured Stones of Scotland." There are other fragments of statues and recumbent figures in the north transept. Of the great central tower which rose between the transepts only the bases of the four supporting pillars remain. The surrounding graveyard contains many interesting monuments.
These ruins impress you with a sense of desolation. Very different is the effect of those of the ivy festooned Priory of Pluscarden, on the other side of Elgin, about six miles to the southwest. "Protected from the chilling blasts of the Northern Ocean by a long and high ridge of hills, now thickly planted with fir, the Abbey stands at the narrowest point of a valley which expands towards the east and west in a long vista of luxurious fertility. The very perfect remains have been well cared for, and, surrounded as they are by a high wall, enclosing about ten acres, approached by a nicely shaven lawn, neat garden and well pruned trees, convey a vivid impression of mediaeval civilisation and monastic repose. The church itself was cruciform, with a square central tower." The priory was founded by Alexander II. in 1230, and dedicated to St. Andrew. The monks were Cistercians of the rule of St. Benedict. They were at first independent, but having become rich they became vicious, and
the priory was reformed and made a cell of Dunfermline. "The architecture is chiefly Early Pointed, retaining, as usual, the circular arch in its doorways. The nave is gone, all but a fragment of wall; the choir, of three bays, without aisles, is fifty-six feet long. The chapter-house, about thirty feet square, shows remarkably delicate mouldings, and its roof, like that of Elgin, is supported, by a single central pier. The north transept is a fine composition, and had a large round window in the gable. The old groined roof is still standing on the aisles of the transept, and also on a small chapel at the north of the choir. On the north wall of the choir is a credence table, on which two angels are represented as supporting a casket, and with their other hands squeezing a bunch of grapes. A flight of steps leads from the church up to the dormitory, upon which a substantial roof has been set . The kitchen, which is arched, is underneath, and the latter has been fitted up as a church, the old pulpit of Elgin Cathedral being placed in it. In 1783, Dr. James Hay, minister of Elgin, bequeathed to the minister and KirkSession of Elgin £100 "for a preacher in Pluscarden." The interest of this mortification was annually paid to a missionary in connection with the Church of Scotland up to 1843; but the then incumbent went out at the Disruption, and no successor has been appointed. The congregation now worshipping in the abbey belongs to the Free Church, but their minister does not enjoy the endowment, which is accumulating in the hands of the Kirk-session of Elgin.
Leaving Elgin, the Morayshire Railway goes on northwards to Lossiemouth.
miles from Elgin.
As we leave Elgin, the city and its cathedral are on our left, and we reach, at a distance of a mile and a half, the ruins of the Castle of Spynie, the old residence of the bishop. It is situated on a loch of the same name, a considerable portion of which has been drained. St. John says of it, Feb. 15, 1847: "Rode to Gordonstoun and shot ducks with Sir Alex. Gordon Cumming, at the Loch of Spynie, which I consider to be about the best loch in the north for wild-fowl shooting." And he adds in another place: '' Among the loose stones of the old castle of Spynie, which overlooks it, and where formerly proud ecclesiastics trod, the badger has now taken up his solitary dwelling."
The first erection at Spynie is generally supposed to have taken place soon after the death of Bishop Brecius in 1222, but it must have been a place of some importance before that, as it was made the head-quarters of the see by a papal bull in 1203, in which year also Bishop Richard died and was buried at the Bishop's Palace of Spynie. The building formed a square of nearly forty yards, a high wall surrounded the whole, and a noble gateway formed the entrance to the east. Over the gateway are carved the arras of Bishop John Innes, in whose time (about 1406) it was most probably built. The square tower to the northwest, now forming the principal part of the ruins, was built by Bishop David Stewart between 1461 and 1475. Hence it bears the name of "Davie's Tower." This bishop having a feud with the Earl of Huntly, laid him under ecclesiastical censure, which so provoked the Gordons that they threatened to pull the prelate from his pigeon holes, meaning the small rooms of the old building. The bishop is said to have replied that he would soon build a bouse out of which the Earl and all his clan should not be able to pull him. So he built him this tower, sixty feet long, thirty-six feet wide, and about sixty feet high. The walls are nine feet thick, and the windows are of ample size. Below were vaulted rooms. Above them four spacious state-apartments and bed-rooms, with vaulted closets. The roof was also vaulted, with cap-house and surrounding battlements. A winding stair led to the top. The arms of Bishop David and Andrew Stewart, and those of Patrick Hepburn,
are carved on the south wall of this tower. The other three corners of the quadrangle had also small turrets. In the south side of the area was a spacious tennis court, and parallel to it inside a chapel. On tho north side were bedrooms and cellars, and on the east stables. Around the court and precincts were gardens well supplied with fruit trees.
In 1590 the castle and lands were formed into a lordship, and given to Sir Alexander Lindsay with the title of Lord Spynie. He died from the effect of eleven wounds received in a street brawl in Edinburgh. The third Lord of Spynie died in 1670 without issue, and the lands reverted to the Crown. They were afterwards granted to Douglas of Spynie and subsequently passed through several hands until they reached those of the Earl of Fife, the present possessor.
In Smiles's "Life of Edward, the Scottish Naturalist," we have the following reference to the Loch of Spynie:
"The Rev. Dr. Gordon of Birnie, near Elgin, found a kitchen-midden, or refuse-heap of shells, on the old margin of the Loch of Spynie, formerly an arm of the sea. The mound is situated in a small wood on the farm of Brigzes. It had been much diminished by its contents having been carted off from the centre of the heap, as manure or topdressing for the adjoining fields. The mound must have been of considerable extent. It measured about one hundred yards in length, being thirty in breadth. The most abundant shell found was the periwinkle, or the edible 'buckie.' Next in order was the oyster. The Bay of Spynie was then a productive dredging ground. On the extensive flat around it, wherever a canal or ditch is dug up, the shells of oysters are yet to be met with, seemingly on the spot where they lived. Yet the oyster, as well as tho primitive people who fared on it, have long since passed away.
"Tho third shell in order in this bank of shells is the mussel, and then the cockle, all edible. There is evidence enough in these mussels, says Dr. Gordon, to show that they have been the work of man, not the effect of any tidal current or any other natural cause. The shell-fish which the remains represent are, with scarcely an exception, edible, and continue to l,e eaten to this day. In all deposits by the sea there is abundance of species that have ever been rejected as food. The shells are full-grown or adult shells. In collections made by the sea, the young animals are abundant, and often predominate. Now no movement of wind and water could have thus selected the edible and adult, and left behind the noxious and the young. They must have been gathered by man, and for the purpose of supplying his wants. Many other arguments have been brought forward to prove this, so that no doubt is now entertained of the matter. One strong proof is that the oysters and periwinkles are never found living and mingled together in the same part of the sea. The former exists between tide-marks. The cockle delights in sand. The mussel must be moored on a rock or hard bottom. In different parts of the masses of shells at Brigzes, there are to be seen many stones that have been subjected to considerable heat. They probably have been used in this state for cooking, as is known to be the case among people of primitive habits to this day."
A large part of what was the old Loch of Spynie has been drained and converted into farm land. For in old times the Loch of Spynie was an arm of the sea, extending from Burghead on the west, to near the present town or village of Lossiemouth on the east; it was fished, and small ships ascended to near the palace. It is said that not very long ago a German vessel arrived in the Firth, chartered to the port of Spynie, so that it must be still on some old maps. Previous to 1829, attempts had been made for its drainage with more or less success, but in the floods of that year, the Lossio broke into the loch, and undid in a great measure what had been done. In 1861, the proprietors combined, and, at considerable expense, have removed the water from the west side of the railway byadeep canal with atidalsluice, letting
the water out when the tide is low and keeping it back when it is high. On the east side Captain Dunbar Brander has retained a piece of water for duckshooting and boating. Artists and sportsmen regret the drainage, but much valuable land has been reclaimed; and if the adago is true that whoever adds a grain of corn to the produce of the country is a benefactor, these proprietors who drained tho Loch of Spynie must be entitled to praise.
The first cost of the drainage, previous to 1861, was upwards of £12,000. The outlay between 1861 and 1868 was £5750. The canal and sluices cost annually to keep them in working order about £200, exclusive of cost of drains on the individual farms. The amount of land reclaimed has been—
On Pitgarney . . . 148 acres.
Earl of Fife . . .137 „
Earl of Sesfield . . 35 „
Sir A. Dunbar . . .106 „
Sir Wm. Cumming . . 336 „
Total . J7fi2 „
Some of the land, owing to low levels, is only fit for pasturage, while, on the other hand, much land which was arable before has been improved by the drainage of the loch.
The railway terminates at the coast— at the little towns of Lossiemouth on the east and Branderburgh on the west side of the river Lossie. The population of the two conjoined is about 3000. There is a good harbour, formed by the Stotfield and Lossiemouth Harbour Company, a company formed in 1834. The foundation-stone of the new harbour was laid in 1837; it was greatly enlarged in 1860. The harbour now yields a revenue of about £1500 yearly.
At various times attempts have been made, profitably, to mine for silver and lead in the fluor-spar rocks of the Coulart hill, and have been abandoned. These attempts have been again resumed, and it is said with some prospect of success.
The lead is found in a hard siliceous rock, and was visible on the surface. The various attempts to work it were