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Are your ancestors buried at Elgin Cathedral?

10 August 2009

If the popular BBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ has inspired you to trace your own family history, an event at Elgin Cathedral might help you find out where some of your ancestors are buried.

Members of the Moray Burial Ground Research Group will be at the Cathedral on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August to provide information on the individuals and families whose final resting place is the historic site’s graveyard.

Earlier this year, the Group published a book on the memorials and headstones within the Cathedral grounds following a survey of the site carried out over three and a half years.

Helen Mitchell, Field Co-ordinator of the Moray Burial Ground Research Group said: “There are 1,170 graves at the Cathedral dating from 1470 to the 1970s.  Our members cleaned the headstones, photographed them and recorded the monumental inscriptions.  We can therefore help visitors with details of all those who are buried here.

“The information on the headstones tells us a great deal about the history of the local community and the people who lived here through the ages.  In the past, families were generally much larger, perhaps because death in infancy and childhood was so common. And of course, many people died from illnesses which have either been eradicated or are now curable. Many others were lost in war.  Seeing how many families lost so many of their members - sometimes in one generation - is very sad but the memorial stones provide a fascinating and important record of their histories.”

There are 140-odd graveyards and burial sites in Moray and the Moray Burial Ground Research Group hopes to survey all of them. Its members are currently carrying out work at Kinloss Abbey and St Peter’s Kirk in Duffus.

Brian Ford, Historic Scotland Regional Visitor Services Manager said: “The Group’s records of headstone inscriptions will be of great interest and importance to those who are researching their ancestry and family history so we hope that as many people as possible will come along to Elgin Cathedral to take advantage of their advice and assistance.

“And during the weekend, we have a special promotion: visitors to the Cathedral will also get free entry to Spynie Palace, so it’s a good opportunity to explore both of these outstanding local attractions.”

Notes for editors

  • A magnificent ruin, Elgin Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings. Much of it dates back to the 13th century and its architectural features include the country’s finest octagonal chapter house.  The Cathedral is in Elgin on the A96. Tel: 01343 547171. Admission costs: adult £4.70, child £2.35 and concessions £3.70.

  • Spynie Palace was the residence of the bishops of Moray for five centuries until 1686, and this mighty tower house offers superb views. It is 2 miles north of Elgin off the A941. Tel: 01343 546358. (Admission normally costs: adult £3.70, child £1.85, concessions £3.00.)  

  • Elgin Cathedral and Spynie Palace are amongst 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details of all of Historic Scotland’s sites visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information


Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk