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Seat of the bishops of MoraySpynie Palace was for five centuries the residence of the bishops of Moray. During that time, the palace stood on the edge of Spynie Loch, a sea-loch giving safe anchorage for fishing boats and merchant vessels. A thriving settlement developed about it. Today, nothing remains of either the sea-loch or the medieval town. However, the gaunt ruin of Spynie Palace does survive remarkably intact. Together with St Andrews Castle in Fife, Spynie remains the largest surviving medieval bishop’s house in Scotland.
A long-lasting episcopal residenceThe bishops of Moray may have established their residence at Spynie in the late 12th century. In 1207–08 Bishop Brice chose the church of Spynie as his cathedral. And although his successor, Bishop Andrew, subsequently moved his cathedra, or bishop’s seat, to a new cathedral in Elgin, the bishops continued to reside at Spynie.
David’s TowerThe colossal tower at the SW corner dominates the whole complex. It measures 19m by 13.5m externally and rises to a height of 22m, making it one of the largest tower houses ever built in Scotland, and the largest by volume. It is named after Bishop David Stewart (1462–76), who commissioned it. However, it remained uncompleted at his death and was finished by Bishop William Tulloch (1477–82). Bishop Patrick (1538–73) added the gunholes. The coats-of-arms of all three bishops grace the south elevation, beneath the royal arms of Scotland. The great tower had a first-floor front entrance and six storeys.