Ancient Monuments

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Spynie Palace

A Scheduled Monument in Fochabers Lhanbryde, Moray

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Latitude: 57.6761 / 57°40'33"N

Longitude: -3.2921 / 3°17'31"W

OS Eastings: 323035

OS Northings: 865868

OS Grid: NJ230658

Mapcode National: GBR L87F.NMW

Mapcode Global: WH6J7.DBK9

Entry Name: Spynie Palace

Scheduled Date: 30 April 1920

Last Amended: 17 January 2024

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90282

Schedule Class: Cultural

Location: Spynie

County: Moray

Electoral Ward: Fochabers Lhanbryde

Traditional County: Morayshire


The monument consists of the remains of the palace of the bishops of Moray, a medieval courtyard castle dating to around 1400 and developed in phases during the 15th and 16th centuries. There is evidence of earlier phases of occupation, including in prehistory, in an area surrounding the palace. The palace is located on a low ridge immediately to the south of the former shoreline of Loch Spynie, at 10m above sea level. 

The earliest upstanding parts of the palace date to the 14th century and include the remains of a first-floor chapel, a gateway on the south and what may have been a hall range with tall traceried windows on the west. In the 15th century a tower house was constructed in the southwest corner of the palace, incorporating the lower elements of an earlier round tower. One of the largest tower houses built in Scotland, it stands to wall head with surviving elements of a corbelled parapet. Around 1500, a great hall was built on the north side of the site, with bakehouse and kitchens to the west. At about the same time, the old south entry was replaced by a new east gate, and rectangular towers were added to the northwest and southeast corners. During the time of Bishop Patrick Hepburn (1539-73) these and the principal tower were provided with wide-mouthed openings for cannon. Archaeological excavation has confirmed the existence of buried remains outside the palace walls including buildings and cobbled roads predating the 14th century. Approximately 120m to the west is the Bishop's Well and 260m to the west are the remains of prehistoric shell middens. 

The scheduled area is irregular, it includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The above ground elements of all current post and wire fencing, the drystone boundary wall and top 300mm of the access road and car park are specifically excluded from the schedule to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because, along with St Andrew's Castle, Fife, it represents one of the largest and best preserved medieval bishop's palaces surviving in Scotland. Its importance is enhanced by the surviving unexplored below-ground archaeology of the palace area itself, and of the zone extending W from it.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Spynie Palace
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HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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