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SPYNIE PALACE.

The Episcopal dignitary whose see extended over the wilds of Inverness-shire, had need of substantial as well as spiritual powers and protections; and hence the broad massive square tower, with its loopholes, its iron stanchioned windows, and its bartizaned battlement, remains the most conspicuous feature in the palace of the Bishop of Moray. Mixed with the square, abrupt architecture of defence, there is just enough of the Gothic to convey a slightly ecclesiastical tone to the mass of ruins. The edifice commands a fine fruitful country, on which the ecclesiastical dignitary could look forth with pride, as the substantial fruit of the industry he excited and fostered. It stands close to the edge of a placid lake, useful as a means of defence, and probably affording an immediate store of that food which the Romish ecclesiastics had strong reasons for cultivating to the highest perfection.

Spynie was at a very early period a place of importance. It appears that the bishop's see was occasionally held here, and sometimes elsewhere. In the year 1203, during the episcopate of Bishop Bricius, the ambulatory system was abolished, and the cathedral was fixed at Spynie, whence it was afterwards transferred to Elgin. Its establishment at Spynie was by a bull of Pope Innocent, addressed to the Bishops of St Andrews and Brechin, and to the Abbot of Lindores, commissioning them to confer the cathedral honours on the Church of the Holy Trinity of Spynie. One of the reasons given for this selection, is, that the place would be easily approached by the friends of the church, but not very accessible to the wicked men in these parts who were its enemies ;* a view from which we may infer that a fortification then existed on the spot. The bull is followed in the Episcopal muniments by the “ magna carta” of Bricius, in which, after alluding to the migratory character of the cathedral, and its evil effects on the ecclesiastical condition of the diocese, he erects and endows eight canonries, with a constitution appointed to follow the model of the cathedral of Lincoln. One of the canonries was to be an appanage of the archdeacon, on condition that he obeyed his vow to uphold the liberties and immunities of the Church of the Holy Trinity of Spynie. The archdeacon, it was specially stipulated, was to receive investiture in the same manner as a simple canon in the cathedral of Lincoln. It was appointed that each canon should have a vicar in attendance, unless he resided at Spynie himself, so that there should ever be eight priests doing duty in the Church of the Holy Trinity.t

The bishop's fortified house would suit well as the keep of a temporal lordship after the Reformation, and its fine rich fruitful acres were an object of ardent desire among the grasping nobility. The fortunate lord of erection in this instance was Alexander Lindsay, son of the tenth Earl of Crawfurd, and grandson to the person known in the annals of the house as “ the wicked master.” I Alexander had advanced ten thousand gold crowns to assist King James to fit himself out for that celebrated journey, from which he returned with Anne of Denmark. He, indeed, was one of the King's companions on that expedition, but he returned before his majesty, as we find him on a bed of sickness receiving the following characteristic letter from the undignified, dissipated Solomon of the age :

+ Ibid., 42.

# Shaw's History of Moray, 103. Lives of the Lindsays, i. 32.

* Registrum Moraviense, 40.

SPYNIE PALACE, 1—2.

SPYNIE PALACE.

“ Sandie, “Quhill youre goode happe furneis me sum bettir occasion to recompence youre honest and faithfull seruice utterid be your diligent and cairfull attendance on me speciallie at this tyme, lett this assure you, in the inviolabill worde of your awin Prince and maister, that quhen God renderis me in Skotlande, I sall irreuocablie, and with consent of Parliament, erect you the temporalitie of Murraye in a temporal lordshipp, with all honouris thairto appartaining.–Let this serue for cure to youre present disease.

“ From the Castell of Croneburg, qubaire we are drinking and dryuing out in the auld maner.

J. R." * Accordingly, on 6th May 1590—the very day, we are told, when King James entered Holyrood with his bride--the temporalities of Moray were erected into a free barony, and conferred on Sir Alexander Lindsay, with the title of Lord Spynie. His good fortune did not exempt him from the peculiar dangers of the period, and he fell in a murderous encounter between rival branches of the “ lightsome Lindsays.” Though a man otherwise of fair repute, he had himself entered with a savage spirit into feudal disputes. Still more ruthless, however, was his relation the Master of Crawford, in whose ferocious will death was ever the doom of those who crossed his designs. He slew, with circumstances of great treachery-or “under trust,” as the chronicles call it—his connection Sir Walter Lindsay of Balgawies, brother of Lord Edzell. The nephews of the murdered man determined to avenge themselves in the Master's blood. On the night of the 5th of July 1507, with eight followers, chiefly of the name of Lindsay, all“ in gear," they lay wait for their victim at a corner of the High Street of Edinburgh. When he was attacked by them, he was in company with Lord Spynie and Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig, but he had no attendants. His companions naturally defended their friend, and a furious combat took place in the midst of a darkness favourable to the weaker party, since no man could see his adversary, and the swords were wielded at random. All the three were wounded, and Spynie so desperately, that he died in eleven days. He was not the intended victim; and it was admitted that his slaughter was “a pitiful mistake;" but it gave little immediate annoyance, for the perpetrator “passes his way in safety, and his folks with him.” He locked himself up in the mountain fortress of Invermark, and defied all the power of the Crown. In 1609 he was brought to trial, but the investigation broke down. In 1614 the matter was brought to a termination, in a manner too characteristic of the age. A solemn contract was entered into between Alexander Lord Spynie, eldest son and heir of the slain lord, and David Lyndsay of Edzell, in which, on the latter solemnly protesting that he was not the author of the slaughter, and that it was purely accidental, and giving a very handsome sum, along with one of his estates, in way of “ assythement,” Lord Spynie and his kin“ remit, forgive and discharge all rancour of their hearts and minds, with all action of displeasure competent to them.”+ · * Lives of the Lindsays, i. 319.

+ Lives of the Lindsays, iii. 386 et seq. Pitcairn's Crimn. Trials, iii. 61 et seq.

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CASTLE STEWART.

Not many years ago, the traveller on the verge of the Highlands would be attracted from the high road by a gloomy mass of ruins, rising over the tops of the trees, and affording all the pleasurable excitement of a discovery; for Castle Stewart is not one of the established sights which every tourist is driven to see. Entering by door or window, as he pleased, he might, without the annoying presence of a guide, grope his way among the gloomy vaults, or mount the winding staircases, and look forth from the bastions on the wide plains of Moray, and the mountains of Inverness. He would admire the many corbelled projections, square and round; the turrets of more than usual loftiness; the mouldings of the windows, and the cluster of high crow-stepped gables; and would generally regret that so fine a specimen of national architecture should apparently be doomed to rapid decay and destruction. It tended to make the effect of the ruin still more melancholy, that it did not appear to have been deserted from old historic times, but to have been recently inhabited; for, though all the flooring and the roofs were gone, fragments of rich cornicing, and other internal decorations, still clung to the mouldering walls. The natural inference, from the general aspect of the building, and especially from some great rents in the walls, was, that it had been burned. The clergyman of the parish of Pettie, however, gives a different and a singular account of this dilapidation, in a passage in which he also mentions the efforts which have lately been made to arrest the progress of the castle to decay-efforts which it must be regretted were not made in better taste, and with more reference to the original form of the building.

“ When Darnaway was building, the joists of Castle Stewart were taken out, nearly to the entire destruction of its beautiful mouldings and friezes; but they could be put to no use in the new edifice. For several years the castle had stood unroofed ; and, from neglect, the heavy projections were tearing the walls asunder. Of late years, the eastern wing has been rendered habitable; the whole building has received a roof sufficient to preserve the walls; and by the introduction of long bars of iron, the progress of the rents in the walls has been stopped, and their existence can now scarcely be detected. The interior of the building is one open space, from the vaults which cover in the lower story, and form the floor of the second, to the roof.” The introduction of the following notice, from the same quarter, may be justified by the extreme scantiness of the materials for an account of this mansion :-“ The garden of Castle Stewart, about twenty-five years ago, was the favourite resort of the schoolboy, who used to repair from Inverness and other quarters to it, as a paradise in which to spend his holiday. The turrets of the castle could scarcely be seen at that time, surrounded as it was by an old and flourishing orchard. The castle now stands in naked majesty in an arable field, only distinguished from other fields by a hedge of ash-trees, which have weathered some hundred winters.”*

Castle Stewart is surrounded by objects of lively and varied interest. It stands, as it were, between the old world and the new. On the field of Gigha, and in other neighbouring places, are scattered the remains of a very far antiquity-Druidical circles, cromlechs, cairns, and old hill-forts. On the other side, jutting into the sea, are the modern bastions of Fort George, bristling with cannon, and still vigilantly garrisoned, as if Prince Charles Edward might land again to-morrow.

* New Statistical Account--Inverness-shire, 392. CASTLE STEWART, 1-2.

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