Friday, April 8, 2011

Elgin Cathedral

The second half of the day, after visiting Culloden, was spent hopping on a bus to a neighboring town to visit cathedral ruins that got Chris-Anne all excited in the brochure. Like I've said before, we're suckers for ruins -- castles and cathedrals.

So, after eating a quick lunch at Culloden, we returned to Inverness in time to catch the bus 90 min out to Elgin. Well, it should've only taken 90 minutes. Instead we got stuck on what was either road construction or someone thinking it would be absolutely hilarious to bring traffic to a standstill in Nairn. We sat there for so long, someone got off the bus in frustration to walk to their destination. Which, heck, for as long as we were sitting there could've been Aberdeen for all I know. They would've gotten there before we got to Elgin.

But we did eventually get to Elgin, and found the cathedral ruins that we were searching for.

What we didn't expect was that there would be a wedding going on. Or at least the after photos and lingering of a wedding. The docent said that they were finishing up and we could go in and take pictures, but for some reason Chris-Anne doesn't cherish the thought of being random people in the background of people's wedding photos. I said that it was a risk they ran having pictures taken outside in a public place.

Genteel southern manners won out, so we went to walk around a local park for a half an hour while we waited for them to finish taking pictures and leave the ruins.

But, by the time we got back, the sun and the shadows were in an even better position for taking pictures, so we all won out in the end.

Elgin Cathedral, from Historic Scotland:
Elgin Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings.

The cathedral was the ecclesiastical centre, the spiritual heart, of the diocese of Moray. The bishop’s cathedra, or seat, was not always at Elgin – it had previously been at nearby Kinneddar, Birnie and Spynie – but once it was transferred to Elgin around 1224, it remained there until the Protestant Reformation of 1560 effectively left the cathedral redundant.

Elgin cathedral is affectionately known as the ‘Lantern of the North’. From the time of its construction in the first half of the 13th century, through to the time of its demise at the Reformation in 1560, this monumentally impressive building dominated the flat and fertile Laich of Moray. The proud boast by one of its former bishops, Alexander Bur (1362–97), that his cathedral was ‘the ornament of the realm, the glory of the kingdom’ is certainly borne out by a visit to this beautiful site.

It really is a beautiful ruin, and I can only imagine what it looked like when it was complete. We climbed the stairs in the tower -- the narrow, winding, narrow... did I mention narrow? -- stairs to get that previous shot (half way up) and some from the top. Which, truthfully, I like the angle on this one better. Narrow stairs do not put me at ease with my slight claustrophobia, but I'm a trooper.

The sun at that time of day was just gorgeous, and only gave the ruins a more ancient and romantic feel. Totally worth the excursion out of town to find them.

And worth watching the 'incident' go down at the bus station as we were waiting to hop back on to Inverness. The 'incident' is what we're taking to calling watching three drunk 20somethings (it was only 6pm, mind you) attempt to board a bus, cause a ruckus, get thrown off, spit on a driver, and threaten the station manager before stumbling off. Hey kids, if you're going to do stupid things that technically count as assault, don't do it in an area completely surrounded by CCTV cameras. I've had more interesting public transit stories with Chris-Anne these past two weeks than in my entire other time in Scotland combined. I do hope they get the jerk who was causing trouble, though.

But with that behind us, we caught the bus back to Inverness and headed back down to the banks of the River Ness in the city centre to watch the sunset. The glorious purples in the sky were too good to miss out on.

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