This page was last updated on 07 November 2015

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

Spynie Palace


Spynie Palacemage Reconstruction by Andrew Spratt

In 1207-8, Bishop Brice Douglas chose the church at Spynie as his cathedral. Although his successor moved the bishop’s seat in 1224, to a new cathedral in Elgin, the bishops continued to live at Spynie.

Nothing remains of the original 13th century timber buildings, and very little remains of the stone buildings which replaced them in the 14th century. Most of the palace dates from the 15th century and tower house at the southwest corner of the palace was begun by Bishop David Stewart (1462-77) and completed by his successor, William Tulloch (1477-82). It is one of the largest tower houses in Scotland and originally contained five floors above a vaulted basement. The remains of an earlier circular tower can be seen in the basement, but all the floors above ground level are now missing, although it is still possible to climb to the roof.

By 1500 the layout of the palace was very much as it appears today. Rectangular towers had been constructed at two corners of the courtyard, there was a new gateway on the east side, and a large hall had been built on the north side.

The last Catholic Bishop to reside at Spynie was Bishop Patrick Hepburn (1538-73), who was responsible for a remodelling of David’s Tower.

spynie palaceThe first Protestant Bishop of Moray, George Douglas, was appointed on the death of Patrick Hepburn in 1573. These were, however, troubled times, and conflict flared frequently about whether the reformed Kirk in Scotland should be governed by bishops as an episcopalian church, or by elected elders as a presbyterian church. James VI managed to keep a lid on the simmering conflict during his rule, but his successor Charles I treated the Scottish Kirk in such an offhand manner that he provoked what became known as the "Bishop's Wars" between England and Scotland, which led directly into the Wars of the Covenant; the English Civil War; the execution of Charles I; and Cromwell's occupation of Scotland: 23 years of wide-ranging conflict that did not really end until the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

Protestant bishops continued to live at Spynie until 1689 when episcopacy was abolished in the Church of Scotland. Bishop William Hay was deprived of his office and the palace fell into decay.

Bishops of Moray

Bricius de Douglas (1203 - 1222)
George Douglas (1573 - 1589)

Alexander Douglas II (1602 - 1623)

Errors and Omission

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archves

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know.

The Forum

If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.

What's New?

We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the blog to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Sunday, 02 June 2019