County of Moray

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County (until circa 1890)
Morayshire - Scotland.svg
Country Scotland
County town Elgin
 • Total 1,232.7 km2 (475.9 sq mi)
  Ranked 18th
Chapman code MOR

Moray (or Elginshire) (pronounced "Murray"[needs IPA] and spelled Moireibh in Gaelic) is one of the registration counties of Scotland, bordering Nairnshire to the west, Inverness-shire to the south, and Banffshire to the east.[1][2] It was formerly in use as a local government county until 1975, when Elgin was the county town.

Prior to 1889 there were two large detached portions of Moray situated locally in Inverness-shire, and a corresponding part of Inverness-shire situated locally in Moray. With the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 these parts were merged into the areas in which they locally lay. The county was officially called Elginshire,sharing the name of the Elginshire parliamentary constituency, so named since 1708.[3] The area became officially known as Moray after 1930 in all official contracts however the term "Morayshire" was introduced as hand-written ledgers found there were issues with, at that time, distinguishing Moray with Norway and Morar.[clarification needed][4][5][not in citation given]

In 1975, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, most of the county was combined with Aberlour, Buckie, Cullen, Dufftown, Findochty, Keith and Portknockie areas of the county of Banffshire to form the Moray district of the Grampian region. Grantown-on-Spey and Cromdale areas were combined with Kingussie and Badenoch areas of the county of Inverness-shire to form the Badenoch and Strathspey district of the Highland region. In 1996 this district was superseded by the council area of Moray 1996, under the provisions of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.

The registration county, for property, is 'County of Moray', and a slightly smaller area, also based on the former county, is a lieutenancy area named 'Moray'.

Coat of arms

Granted in 1927 by the Lord Lyon, Moray's coat-of-arms was: Quarterly: 1st and 4th Azure, three mullets argent; 2nd and 3rd Argent, three cushions gules within a tressure flory-counter-flory of the last. The motto was SUB SPE, Latin for "In Hope", a pun on the River Spey, which flows through the county. The coat of arms, described by Thomas Innes of Learney, a future Lord Lyon, in the Elgin Courant of 6 May 1927 as "the most beautiful county arms in Scotland", represented the clan Murray and Randolph, Earl of Moray, the two main landowners.[6]


There are a number of mountainous features within Moray, including Bin Hill near Cullen. Bin Hill is visible from a number of distant points including Longman Hill, situated to the east in coastal Aberdeenshire.[7]

Administrative Morayshire 1889-1975
Moravia in Blaeu's 1654 Atlas of Scotland
Map of medieval Moray from A History of Moray and Nairn by Charles Rampini, Edinburgh, 1897

Towns and villages of the county

Civil Parishes

Morayshire (Elginshire) & Nairnshire Civil Parish map. c.1861

Civil parishes are still used for some statistical purposes, and separate census figures are published for them. As their areas have been largely unchanged since the 19th century this allows for comparison of population figures over an extended period of time.[8] From 1845 to 1930, parishes formed part of the local government system of Scotland, having parochial boards from 1845 to 1894.

In 1861 there were 15 civil parishes entirely in Moray:[9]

  1. Alves
  2. Birnie
  3. Dallas
  4. Drainie[10]
  5. Duffus
  6. Edinkillie (see List of listed buildings in Edinkillie, Moray)
  7. Elgin
  8. Forres
  9. Kinloss
  10. Knockando
  11. Lhanbryde
  12. Rafford
  13. Speymouth
  14. Spynie
  15. Urquhart

In 1861 Morayshire shared various civil parishes with three surrounding counties. Five with Banffshire:

  1. Bellie Fochabers
  2. Boharm
  3. Inveraven
  4. Keith
  5. Rothes[11]

three with Inverness-shire:

  1. Abernethy
  2. Cromdale
  3. Duthill

and one with Nairnshire:

  1. Dyke

See also


  1. Registers of Scotland. Publications, leaflets, Land Register Counties
  3. L.Shaw, 1882
  6. Urquhart, R.M. Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry (1973 ed.). Heraldry Today. pp. 77–78.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> consulted 20 December 2013.
  7. C.M. Hogan, 2008
  8. [1]
  9. [2]
  10. [3]
  11. [4] Scottish Places.

Further reading

  • Lachlan Shaw and James Frederick Skinner Gordon (1882) The History of the Province of Moray: Comprising the Counties of Elgin and Nairn, the Greater Part of the County of Inverness and a Portion of the County of Banff, Published by Hamilton, Adams & co.,
  • C.Michael Hogan The Modern Antiquarian (2008) Longman Hill.
  • R.M. Urquhart (1973) Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry, published by Heraldry Today.