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Chronicles of Strathearn

The following is from Chronicles of Strathearn by W. B. MacDougall:

Celtic Saints and Ancient Churches of Strathearn

By Rev. JAMES RANKIN, D.D., Muthill

  • S. Fillan, Dundurn
  • S. Ronan, Strowan
  • S. Bean, Kinkell and Foulis
  • S. Serf, Dunning and Monzievaird
  • S. Kessog, Comrie and Auchterarder
  • S. Patrick, Strogeath
  • S. Fergus, Muthill
  • S. Cattan, Aberuthven
  • S. Bride, Abernethy

The vale or strath of the Earn may best and simplest be said to extend from the head of Loch Earn along the course of the River Earn to its junction with the Tay, two and a quarter miles above Newburgh. The distance from top to bottom as the crow flies is about thirty-six miles, and the direction is very nearly due west and east. The valley may be sub-divided into four portions. The uppermost is Loch Earn itself, which is six and a half miles long and 306 feet above sea-level, so that the descent of the river in its thirty miles of course is not much. The surface of Loch Earn, James' Square in Crieff, and the Manse of Muthill, across the valley, are as nearly as possible on the same level. The Earn may be sectioned as follows:--From Loch Earn to the Bridge of Comrie; thence to the Bridge of Crieff; thence to the Bridge of Kinkell; thence to Bridge of Earn; thence to junction of Earn with Tay. For our present purpose we may stop near Forteviot, at the Earn boundary of the Presbytery of Auchterarder.

Before we can rightly appreciate the more or most ancient Christian history of the Strath, we require to lay aside, and partly reverse, certain modern associations as to lines of travel. We think of Strathearn as running westward from Auchterarder, which lies on both the turnpike and railway route from Stirling to Perth. But in the days of our early Christianity it was mainly the sea on each coast that joined north and south of Scotland; whereas the more frequented routes were across country from west to east, because the west was then the seat of government and source of culture. Our early Christianity came from Ireland, and the route was by the Firth of Clyde, where Kintyre, Arran, Cumbrae, Bute, Kilmun, Dumbarton, Luss, and Balquhidder were all already provided with places of worship. The Vale of Leven and Loch Lomond were the natural approaches from the west to the upper end of Loch Earn and Strathearn. Another route connecting Perthshire with Iona was by Loch Etive, Dalmally, Tyndrum, and Glendochart. But the Leven and Loch Lomond route, judging by the saints to whom the oldest churches were dedicated, was the actual one usually traversed in reaching the valley of the Earn.

The oldest settlement is that of S. Fillan, at Dundurn. His day in the Kalendar is June 22, and he died about 520 A.D. Dundurn=Dun d'Earn. In the martyrology of Donegal (for he was a pure Irish Celt) he is called of Rath Erann--i.e., the fort on the Earn. Besides the old chapel and burial-ground, a memorial of the Saint is in Dunfillan, where are his chair and well. A fine eye for the picturesque the good man must have had to select a hill of so striking aspect and commanding so charming a landscape as Dunfillan. A little later Dunfillan became a king's seat or fort. S. Fillan is called an lobar, leper, or perhaps stammerer, to distinguish him from S. Fillan the abbot, connected with Strathfillan and Killin, whose day is January 9, and who died about 703, nearly 200 years after his namesake the leper. He of Dundurn was of the race of AEngus, King of Munster, and was trained under S. Ailbe of Emly. Dr. Marshall, in his "Historic Scenes in Perthshire," in company with several other writers, mixes up the two S. Fillans. Bishop Forbes, in his "Kalendars of Scottish Saints," gives a clear account of each, mentioning that Aberdour, in Fife, is dedicated to him of Dundurn, as was also Cill or Kil-Faelin, in Leinster.

Tullichettle and Comrie may be taken together, the distance between them being only one mile; the former meaning "The Vale of Sleep," now known mainly by its little kirkyard, having once been the more important of the two. The proof of this is seen in an extract from the Register of Ministers and Readers in the Miscellany of the Wodrow Society. In 1574, where our Presbytery has now sixteen parishes, there were only four ministers and sixteen readers, thus grouped:--Auchterarder--Stipend, £100, and kirk-lands--had readers at Auchterardour, Kinkell, Abirruthven, and Dunnyng. Strogeith--£60, and kirk-lands--had readers at Strogeith, Muthill, and Strowane. Foulis--£80, and kirklands--had readers at Foulis, Madertie, Trinite-Gask, and Findo-Gask. Tullichettil--£100, and kirk-lands--had readers at Tullichettil, Cumrie, Monivaird, Monzie, and Crieff. The system of readers was a beggarly makeshift for the Christian ministry, and shows the sore straits to which the Reformed Church was reduced after what was supposed to be the grand victory of 1560. Then Tullichettle was more than Comrie, as Strageath was more than Muthill. The dedication of Tullichettle does not appear in any record that I have seen, but that of Comrie is evident from its fair, which bears the name of S. Kessog. There is also a Tom-na-chessaig, just behind the old Free Church, now a public hall. The old name has a modern recognition in a local Freemasons' Lodge of S. Kessack. What is known of the Saint is given further on under Auchterarder.

Downwards on Earn the next ancient riverside church is Strowan, which, being a small parish, was united to Monzievaird before 1662. The site is one of remarkable beauty and quiet, almost ideal as a place of worship and burial. Ronan or Rowan was a bishop and confessor under King Maldwin, Feb. 7, 737, according to Adam King's Kalendar. He was of Kilmaronen or Kilmaronoc, in Lennox. Other dedications to him are Kilroaronag, in Muckairn; Teampull Ronan of Ness, in Lewis; Port Ronan, in Iona. At his death in 737 A.D., S. Ronan was abbot of Kingarth, in Bute. Connected with the church of Strowan is a Ronan pool on the Earn, and a bell remains from the old days. An adjacent farm is called Carse of Trowan.

The old church of Monzievaird on the east avenue to Ochtertyre, and now the private burial-place of the Murrays, is dedicated to S. Serf. But his legend may be reserved till we reach Dunning, at the end of our narrative.

The next in order of the old Celtic Churches on the Earn is that at Strogeit, or usually Strageath. This church and churchyard are close on the Earn, at a very picturesque spot, where are two very old mills--one on each side of the river--and a mill-dam between, and serving for both. The church is dedicated to S. Patrick, of Ireland, and was planted by an Irish missionary called S. Fergus.

Patricius was bishop and confessor--his day of death and commemoration, March 17, 493. He was the son of Calphurnius, a Roman decurio or magistrate at Dumbarton, his mother being Conkessa, sister or niece of the great S. Martin of Tours. He was born at Kilpatrick, on the Clyde, and called Succat=Succoth, the name of a neighbouring estate. At sixteen, Patrick was carried off to Ireland by pirates, and sold to a chief, Michul of Antrim, where he served six years, when he escaped to Scotland. He then went to S. Germanus of Auxerre for forty (more probably four) years' study. After becoming monk with his uncle S. Martin, he visited Rome, and was sent to Ireland, where he laboured sixty years, consecrating 365 churches and bishops, and ordaining 300--some say 3000--presbyters. Writings of S. Patrick are his "Confessions"--"Hymn before Tara," called "Breastplate," in eleven verses, and "Letter to Caroticus, Caradoc, or Ceretic Guledig," from whom the kings of Alcluith, Patrick's birthland, were descended. (See Christian Classics--The Writings of Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. Religious Tract Society, London.) S. Patrick's churches in Scotland are sixteen, of which three are in Muthill--viz., Strogeit, on the Earn; S. Patrick's, at Blairinroar; and S. Patrick's, at Struthill; each of the two latter having a S. Patrick's Well, anciently used in baptism. At Blairinroar, five miles west from Muthill, two or three cot-houses still bear the name S. Patrick's, but I don't know that the site of the original chapel is identifiable. At Struthill, two miles south of Muthill, both chapel walls and ancient burial-ground remained till about 50 years ago, when they were shamefully turned--the one into dyke material, and the consecrated soil and remains into top-dressing for corn land. The sacred well was also run off into a drain, and the site marked by a modern cattle trough. The burial-ground at Strageath is still in use, but the corner stones of the old church have been brutally abstracted for use in neighbouring buildings. These desecrations ill agree with what is truly stated by my predecessor in the New Statistical Account, that "the inhabitants of Muthill, until very lately (i.e., about 1835), held S. Patrick's name in so high veneration that on his day (March 17) neither the clap of the mill was heard nor the plough seen to move in the furrow.” Across the Earn from Strageath is a farm called Dalpatrick, and a ford known as Dalpatrick Ford.

This well-deserved honour to the patron saint of Ireland is traceable here to the presence of one of his disciples and countrymen, S. Fergus, whose work, however, must have been about 150 years after S. Patrick's death. After his work of chapel building in Muthill, S. Fergus quitted his hermitage at Strageath and went northward to Caithness and Buchan, on the same gospel errand, where, after good work again, he moved southwards to Glamis, the scene of his death and burial. The churches dedicated to him are six--viz., Wick, Halkirk, S. Fergus or Lungley, Inverugy, S. Fergus, at Banff; Dyce. Glamis has S. Fergus' cave and well. There was a S. Fergus chapel in the church of Inchbrayock, at Montrose, and a chapel and well at Usan, three miles south-east of Montrose. His head was preserved at Scone in a silver casket, his arm in a silver casket at Aberdeen, and his staff, baculus or bachul, at S. Fergus, in Buchan. In 721, Fergustus Epis. Scotiae Pictus signed at Rome canons as to irregular marriages. He belonged to the party that conformed to Rome as distinguished from the strict adherents of the old Celtic ritual.

About one mile below Strageath is the old Collegiate Church of Innerpeffray, dedicated to S. Mary, mentioned in 1342, and made collegiate in 1508 by the first Lord Drummond. But as this belongs to a later ecclesiastical system (1200-1560) it may be passed over for the present.

About two miles lower than Innerpeffray is Kinkell Church, dedicated to S. Bean. Here we come on a group of three, the next being Aberythven, three miles east of Kinkell, dedicated to S. Cathan; and Auchterarder, one mile south of Aberuthven, dedicated to S. Makessock. These three churches, along with Strageath and Madderty, have this in common at a later date--viz., 1200 A.D., that they were granted by Earl Gilbert of Strathearn and his Countess Matildis, as endowment to the newly-founded Abbey of Inchaffray. A few years later the Church of S. Bean of Foulis and the Church of the Holy Trinity of Gasc were added to the same endowment. Although now desolate, and appearing as a pendicle to an adjacent farm-steading, the old Kirk of Kinkell occupies a beautiful site in the valley, on a knoll, close by the river, and the kirkyard is still occasionally used. S. Bean, who was bishop and confessor, died about 920, and his day in the Kalendar is 26th October. He was uncle of S. Cadroe, who was taught at Armagh, and whose mission in Scotland marks the origin of the Culdees, strictly so-called, as is traced in Skene's Celtic Scotland, II., 346, in connection with Kinkell and Abernethy.

Particularly interesting is the Church of Aberuthven, now in the parish of Auchterarder. The eastern end of the building is evidently of extreme antiquity, with two narrow windows, between which would stand the altar, probably of stone. The dedication was to S. Cathan or Cattanus, bishop, May 17, 710. Cathan was uncle of S. Blain, of Bute, whom he ordained and consecrated bishop. Cathan is most closely associated with Bute, his original chapel having been on the south side of Kilchattan Bay. Cattan, the Pict, planted a church in Gigha, then went to Colonsay, which has another S. Cattan's, and to Iona, and settled at Scarinche, in Lewis, where his remains were preserved, and where, after Bannockburn (1314), a church was built and dedicated to S. Cattan, and affiliated to Inchaffray. There was also a Clan Chattan. (See Hewison's Bute, I., 136-8.)

Kessog, Kessogus, or Makessock, was born at Cashel, the capital of Munster, of the line of the Kings of Ireland, and miracles are attributed to his early years. He is depicted with bow and arrow as patron of the warriors of Leven and patron saint of Cumbrae. He lived as hermit in the island of Inch-ta-vanach, in Loch Lomond, and was martyred at Luss, where a cairn, Cam Machaisog, remained till 1796. (Anderson's Early Christian Times, I., 212). His day is 10th March, and the date of martyrdom, 520. Coming between the times of S. Patrick and S. Columba, S. Kessog and several saintly contemporaries are the fruits of the fervour of the former and the pioneers of the latter. The doctrines and rites of these earlier missionaries are described in Hewison's Bute, I., 118-131. S. Kessog's bell was preserved and honoured in Lennox in the 17th century. Besides Auchterarder, the Churches of Comrie, Callander, Luss, and Cumbrae were dedicated to S. Kessog. Callander has a fair on the 21st March=10th March (old style), called Fel-ma-chessaig, and the site of the old kirk, on a conical hill, is called Tom-na-chessaig. Cumbrae has a Kessog's Fair on the third Wednesday in March. Kessog Ferry, at Inverness, is another memorial of the Saint; so is the Strathearn name of M'Isaac, Makisaig, and Kessack. The old Kirk of S. Makessok lies in a hollow to the north of modern Auchterarder, whose church dates only from about 1660, and was enlarged in 1811. Makessock's Well still exists on the farm of East Kirkton, beside the old glebe and manse, which are now part of that farm, having been "excambed" about 1800.

There is a dedication to S. Mungo connected with Auchterarder, but as it seems not to have been a distinct building, we may consider it to have been only an altar, or side chapel, in the Church of S. Makessog. (The evidence for the S. Mungo dedication is "Historians of Scotland, Vol. V., p. xc."; also New Statistical Account, Perth, 290.) Craigrossy paid dues to S. Mungo's altar in Glasgow. (Historians of Scotland, V., 357, and Orig. Par., I., 2.) The name Mungo has a marked currency in Strathearn. I have known six examples.

Before passing to Dunning, allusion may be made to Gask and Trinity-Gask, both of which are bounded by the Earn, the latter especially to a great extent. Gask was anciently known as Findo-Gask, the dedication being to S. Findoka, Fincana, or S. Fink, one of the nine daughters of S. Donevald or Donaldus, who led a religious life in the Glen of Ogilvie, in Forfarshire. S. Donevald's day is 12th July, and he died in 712. The Churches of Bendochy and Innishail (in Glenorchy) were also dedicated to S. Fink; while Finhaven, Strathmartin, and Touch were dedicated to S. Donevaldus. Trinity-Gask is mentioned under this name in a charter of Inchaffray shortly after 1200. To the Holy Trinity was a favourite dedication of the Culdees, who held firmly by the Apostles' Creed. The Cathedral of Brechin was dedicated by King Kenneth (971-995) to the Holy Trinity, and Culdee abbots continued in Brechin till 1219, although the See was founded in 1150 by David I., and re-dedicated to the Trinity. Thus the very name carries back the Church of Trinity-Gask to the times of the Culdees, if not to the Celtic Church directly.

The patron saint of Dunning is S. Servanus or Serf, who appears in the Kalendar as bishop and confessor, his day being July 1. He is said to be the son of Alma, daughter of a Pictish King; was ordained by Palladius, and dwelt at Culross in a monastery, where his most famous scholar was Kentigern, of Glasgow. Palladius died in 432, and Kentigern in 603, so that the same man in an ordinary life-time could not be ordained by Palladius and teach Kentigern. To escape this difficulty, the Aberdeen Breviary makes two S. Serfs. The legend runs--"In a place called Dunnyne the inhabitants were harassed by a dreadful dragon, which devoured both men and cattle and kept the district in continual terror. S. Serf, armed with a breastplate of faith, attacked the monster in his lair, and slew him by a blow of his pastoral staff.” In proof of this legend, and in memory of this event, the scene to this day is called the Dragon's Den. The oldest part of the Church of Dunning, which dates between 1200 and 1219, would be the successor of the humbler Celtic building of the original dedication. If there were two S. Serfs, he of Dunning is the later, and is the same who is associated with Airthrey, Tillicoultry, Alva, Culross, and especially Pitmook, or Portmoak, and S. Serf's Isle, in Loch Leven. Other dedications are Monzievaird, Creich, Dysart, Redgorton. A S. Serf--probably the earlier, if there were two--was associated with Orkney. In the west of France, near St. Malo, is a town of St. Servan. The neatest of all the S. Serf legends, probably invented to suit some prehistoric soiree at the foot of the Ochils, tells of a robber who had stolen and eaten a pet lamb of the Saint, and who, having cleared himself by an oath taken over the Saint's staff, was immediately contradicted from within by a ba, ba, in response to the Saint's voice and the false oath. In Glasgow on the Thursday of the Fair week is a horse market known as Scairs, Skeers, or Sair's Thursday, Sair being one of the forms of Serf. There is a S. Sares Fair in Aberdeenshire, at Monkedge or Keith Hall, which has been removed to Culsalmond.

Although lying beyond our Presbytery limits, allusion may be made to the very ancient religious house at Abernethy, one mile south of the Earn, and near its junction with the Tay. The dedication of Abernethy is to S. Brigid or Bride. About 590, when Abernethy was the seat of the Pictish rule, Columban monks were planted here under King Lartnaidh. In 717 they were expelled by Nectan III. for non-conformity to Rome; but in 865 the old order was re-established by Abbot Kellach, of Iona. This continued to 908, when the See was transferred to St. Andrews. Culdees appear at Abernethy in the reign of Edgar (1097-1107), and they still held the old nunnery associated with S. Brigid in 1189-1198; and in 1272 the Culdees were changed into a priory of Augustinian monks. The famous Round Toweris assigned by Dr Petrie to 712-727, under Nectan III.; by Dr Skene to 865, the year of Kellach's visit; Dr Muir makes it later than Brechin, i.e., 950; while Mr Anderson makes it one or two decades later still. For our purpose here the most important fact relative to Abernethy is the original dedication to S. Brigid. She was Abbess of Kildare, and died Feb. 11, 523 (Feb. 1 in Irish Kalendars). She received the veil from S. Mel, nephew of S. Patrick; wore a leathern belt over a white kirtle, and had a veil over her shoulders. Her cell was under a large oak, Kildara = cell of the oak, and she founded communities of women; died at the age of 70. Many miracles are ascribed to her, one of which reveals a very ancient ecclesiastical usage, parallel to the buns and ale associated with Scottish communions of three generations ago, as described in "The Holy Fair.” From one barrel, S. Bride supplied beer to eighteen churches, the beer lasting from noonday, Thursday, in Holy Week, till after Easter.

Reviewing these primitive local churches and churchmen, we see that the general Christianisation of our Strath began about 500 A.D., and has continued and grown ever since. The three earliest dates above, given are S. Fillan, +520; S. Kessog, +520; and S. Brigid, +523. The three latest are S. Cattan, +710; S. Rowan, +737; and S. Bean, +920; all these being dates of death. This Celtic form of church began earlier in Scotland, and especially in Ireland, but in this district we see it in considerable strength from 500 onwards, and we know that it continued in vigour till about the year 1200, when it was superseded by a better organised and more developed form of Christianity, with direct recognition of Rome as the seat of authority.

The difference between the Roman and the Celtic or Culdee Church consisted in such matters as these:--The Celtic Church, while acknowledging many of the saints common to Christendom--especially those of the East--had in addition a very extensive local calendar, deeply venerated, which outnumbered the Roman element. It had also peculiarities in a frontal instead of a coronal tonsure for monks; in a shorter Lenten fast, which made up the forty days by including Sundays, and began on Monday instead of Wednesday; in a different time for Easter, dependent on a more ancient method of reckoning; in the absence of special or obligatory Easter communion; in the regular celebration of the Holy Supper with what were by Romanists called "barbarous rites."

The most marked features of the Celtic Church were its government and orders, where monasteries took the place of dioceses, where abbots were above bishops, where bishops were without dioceses, where ordination was conferred occasionally, if not habitually, by one single bishop instead of three, where bishops were too numerous to be diocesan, and where (latterly at least) abbots were frequently married, making church lands hereditary in their families.

A further characteristic of the Celtic Church was the rudeness and smallness of its buildings, which were of three styles--wattle and daub, timber beams, and unhewn stones. No examples of the two former survive, but the third and more solid style is still visible in Teampull Bennachad, in Lewis; Tempull Ronan, in North Rona; and the Beehive Cells, in Eilan na Naoimh (Nun's Island.) These old Strathearn churches would seldom be larger than 12 feet wide by 20 long, built of undressed land stones (like a field dyke), and thatched with heather, bracken, or sedge. The great storehouse of reliable material with minimum of controversy relative to the early Christianity of Scotland is Warren's Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church. (Clarendon Press, 1881.)

The view given by Mr Hewison in "Bute in the Olden Time" (Vol. I., p. 119) of the doctrine and ritual of the Celtic Church in Ireland in the days of S. Patrick may safely be accepted as generally applicable to the Celtic Church in Scotland from 500 to 1000 A.D.:--

"We are dependent upon the 'Tripartite Life of S. Patrick' for definite information regarding the teaching and modes of worship in the Church in his day. It is clear the early teachers faithfully maintained the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith, and used the version of the Bible prepared by S. Jerome. There are substantial reasons for believing that they also possessed a vernacular version, if not of all, of some of the books of the Bible, the Greek portions of which were studied by the more famous evangelists, like S. Brendan. A liturgy was also used, and, from surviving fragments, it appears to have been related to the 'Ephesine,' rather than to the 'Petrine' family of liturgies--that is to say, it was different from the Roman, and if not identical with the Gallican liturgy, was similar to it. Of the co-equality of the Trinity they had no doubt. In the 'Tripartite Life,' Baptism and Eucharist are mentioned as sacraments, but penance, marriage, holy orders, and extreme unction are not referred to as sacraments; while confirmation, if not accepted as of divine institution, was esteemed to have an imperative importance. There is only a slight trace of the honours paid to the Virgin Mary in the same work. According to the editor, 'The Blessed Virgin Mary is never mentioned either by Patrick, or Secundinus, Muirchu, or Tirechán.' Communion was partaken of in both kinds, the wine being mixed with water in the chalice, and sucked through a fistula. Prayers and fasting on behalf of the dead were indulged in, and much virtue was attached to severe fastings and ascetic mortifications of body and soul. Every day was consecrated to unremitting labours in the Gospel. Sunday was, indeed, a day of worship, divided into eight watches, like the other days of the week, and was fully observed in the saying of mass, the chanting of the 150 psalms, and preaching to the people. The clergy--deacons, presbyters, and bishops--were married. A notable feature of consecration of bishops was the practice of consecration by a single bishop, sometimes at a leap, without the candidate having received orders as a deacon or priest. Priests and virgins had a 'roving commission' to 'sing and say' over the land. It is interesting to find that the catacombs in Rome have preserved the monuments of 'virgines peregrinae,' like those of the Celtic Church. The size, importance, and influence of a complete ecclesiastical establishment (muintir), such as that presided over by S. Patrick, may be inferred from the functions of the 24 persons who were in office along with him--viz., bishop, priest, judge, bishop-champion (polemic), psalmist, chamberlain, bell-ringer, cook, brewer, two waiters, charioteer, fire-wood man, cow-herd, three smiths, three artizans, and three embroideresses."

II--Relation of Auchterarder Presbytery to the Diocese of Dunblane

Of the thirteen dioceses in Scotland, that of Dunblane was the smallest. In its Parochiale, or list of parishes, were 43 entries; but 3 of these were not parishes at all, but prebends, representing respectively the Abbots of Cambuskenneth, Arbroath, and Inchaffray. Of the churches and parishes proper that constituted the diocese, no fewer than 18 are now included in the Presbytery of Auchterarder; while 12 constitute the Presbytery of Dunblane, and 6 are in the Presbytery of Perth. Thus quite one half of the old diocese finds its corporate representative in Auchterarder, while the other half is subdivided between Perth and Dunblane.

Dunblane was formed into a bishopric by David I. out of the old Pictish Bishopric of Abernethy, which in the division was allotted as a parish to Dunblane. The date of erection was previous to 1150--some say 1140. Dunblane was already a Columban, and (notwithstanding Dr. Skene's argument to the contrary [1]) also a Culdee settlement. The church dates back to the seventh century, and was an offshoot of the Church of Kingarth, in Bute, for its founder was St. Blane. He was of the race of the Irish Picts, and nephew of that Bishop Cathan who founded Kingarth; he was himself bishop of that church, and his mother was a daughter of King Aidan of Dalriada. Dunblane and its church were burnt under Kenneth MacAlpin (844-860) by the Britons of Strathclyde, and in 912 were ravaged by Danish pirates, headed by Rognwald.

"At Dunblane," says Goodall, [2] "the Culdees continued near a hundred years longer than at Dunkeld. Cormac Malpol, their prior, with Michael, parson of Mothil, and Macbeath, his chaplain, are witnesses to a confirmation by William, bishop of Dunblane (1210 ----), of a gift of the Church of Kincardine to the monks of Cambuskenneth, to be seen in their chartulary, fol. 80; and Malpol, the prior, and Michael and Malcolm, Culdees, are witnesses to a charter by Simon, bishop of Dunblane (1170 ----), one of William's predecessors. [3]

"At last, in the year 1240, the election of the bishop of that See was devolved upon canons-regular, by a mandate of Pope Gregory IX., which was obtained in this manner: Clement, bishop of Dunblane, went to Rome, and represented to that Pope, how of old time his bishopric had been vacant upwards of a hundred years, during which period almost all the revenues were seized by the seculars; and although in process of time there had been several bishops instituted, yet, by their simplicity or negligence, the former dilapidations were not recovered, but, on the contrary, the remainder was almost quite alienated; so that, for near ten years, a proper person could not be found to accept of the charge; that the case having been laid before the Pope, he had committed the trust of supplying that vacancy to the bishops of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Brechin, who made choice of this Clement; but he found his church so desolate that he had not where to lay his head in his cathedral: there was no college there, only a rural chaplain performed divine service in the church that had its roof uncovered; and the revenues of the See were so small that they could hardly afford him maintenance for one half of the year.

"To remedy these evils, the Pope appointed William and Geoffry, the bishops of Glasgow and Dunkeld, to visit the Church of Dunblane; and if they should find these things to be as represented, he authorised them to cause the fourth part of the tithes of all the parish churches within that diocy to be assigned to the bishop thereof; who, after reserving out of these tithes so much as should be proper for his own sustenance, was, by the advice of these two bishops and other expert persons, to assign the rest to a dean and canons, whom the Pope enjoined to be settled there, if these matters could be brought about without great offence; or, if otherwise, he ordered that the fourth of the tithes of all such churches of the diocy as were in the hands of seculars should be assigned to the bishop, and that the bishop's seat should be translated to St. John's monastery of canons-regular (i.e., Inchaffray) within that diocy, and appointed that these canons should have the election of the bishop when a vacancy should happen thereafter."

As the bishop's seat was not transferred from Dunblane to Inchaffray, we may infer that the former part of the alternative was carried out--viz., that dean and canons were found for Dunblane, and the bishop also provided for out of the fourth of the tithes of all churches in the diocese. The decay of clerics at Dunblane in Bishop Clement's time (1233-1258) may as well have applied to Keledei declining there, and does not imply that they never were there, but existed only at Muthill (13 miles to the north), and that the Culdees of Muthill, being in the diocese of Dunblane, were called Culdees of Dunblane. "We find," says Skene, [4] "the Keledei with their prior at Muthill from 1178 to 1214, [5] when they disappear from the records, and Muthill becomes the seat of the dean of Dunblane, who had already taken precedence of the prior of the Keledei. It is probable that, under the growing importance of Dunblane as a cathedral establishment, the possessions of the Keledei had fallen into secular hands.” This would be the more easy, as the monastery of the Culdees was a distinct institution about a mile south of the church and village of Muthill.

The foundation of the present cathedral is attributed to Bishop Clement, originally a monk, who received the tonsure from St. Dominic himself. The cathedral which he has left has since his day been extended both to east and westward; and what he built he joined on to the more ancient square and perpendicular tower. The cathedral consists of an aisled, eight-bayed nave (130 by 58 feet, and 50 feet high), an aisleless choir (80 by 30 feet), with a chapter-house, sacristy, or lady chapel, to the north. The nave is almost entirely pure first-pointed. In the clerestory the windows are of two lights, with a foiled circle set over them, plainly treated outside, but elaborated by a range of shafted arches running continuously in front of the windows within, so much apart from them as to leave a narrow passage round the building in the thickness of the wall. The east window is a peculiar triplicate, with the centre light much taller and wider than the others. The west front has over the doorway and its blind arch on either side three very long and narrow two-light windows of equal height, with a cinquefoil in the head of the central window and a quatrefoil in the head of the side windows; whilst above is a vesica, set within a bevelled fringe of bay-leaves, arranged zigzag-wise, with their points in contact--the last the subject of a well-known rhapsody by Ruskin. The root of the cathedral history in this case lies in the tower. It stands awkwardly a little out of line in the south aisle of the nave, an evident remnant of an older church, exactly like the similar tower in Muthill, of the eleventh century, retained in a church built c. 1430. A tower, almost exactly similar, but more ornate, probably twenty or thirty years later in date, exists at Dunning, in the same diocese, and also a Celtic Church settlement associated with St. Serf. The old Culdee Church of Markinch has a tower of the same peculiar style, originally with a square, upright, saddle-backed roof, and crow-stepped gables. Some vestiges remain of the bishop's palace, overlooking the Allan on the south-west of the cathedral; and the triangular space in front of the south side of the cathedral, and forming the end of the High Street, has some old houses which are believed to have been canons' manses.

The chapter consisted of--Dean (Muthill), praecentor, chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon; Prebendaries--Abbot of Cambuskenneth in 1298, Abbot of Arbroath for Abernethy from 1240; Crieff primo (probably parish of), Crieff secundo (probably St. Thomas at Milnab), Logie, Fordishall, Kinkell, Kippen, Monzie, Comrie. Eighteen finely carved oak stalls of the dignitaries and canons belonging to the sixteenth century still survive. Other carved work was destroyed in 1559 by the Prior of St. Andrews and the Earl of Argyll. The line of bishops ended with three of the neighbouring family of Chisholm of Cromlix. Bishop James Chisholm was eldest son of Edmund Chisholm, and was a good administrator. Bishop William Chisholm, his half-brother, was an ecclesiastic of the worst possible type for fornication, church robbery, and persecution of so-called heretics. Bishop William Chisholm, nephew of the robber-bishop, became, after the Reformation, a Carthusian monk at Lyons. He is supposed to have taken with him the writs of the See, which have been lost. Marshall [6] gives an account of this branch of Chisholms. The same writer says [7]: "Among the sepulchral monuments in the cathedral is that of Malise, eighth Earl of Strathearn, and his countess. It is in the vestry of the choir, and is a flat block of gritstone, having on it full-sized figures of the Earl and Countess. When discovered in the choir, the block was above a coffin of lead with date 1271. In the centre of the choir is the dust of Lady Margaret Drummond, mistress (but probably privately married) of James IV., and her sisters the Ladies Euphemia and Sybilla, daughters of Lord Drummond, who were poisoned (apparently to clear the way for the King's marriage to the Princess Mary of England in 1503). Their remains were deposited here by permission of their uncle, Sir William Drummond, then Dean of Dunblane. Three blue slabs covered and marked their resting-place. The recumbent figure attired in pontifical vestments and mitre, and which is in a niche of the wall under a window of the choir, on the right of the pulpit, is supposed to represent Bishop Finlay Dermock, and to be his sepulchral monument. The other recumbent figure under one of the windows of the nave represents Bishop Michael Ochiltree, who greatly added to the rich adornments of the cathedral."

Bishops Of Dunblane

  • Laurence, attests a charter of Malcolm IV., 1160.
  • Simon, 1170.
  • Jonathan, archdeacon, buried at Inchaffray. Great endowment of the See
  • by Gilbert, earl of Stratherne, c. 1195-1210.
  • William de Bosco, chancellor, 1210.
  • Abraham, 1220 to c. 1223.
  • Osbert, abbot of Cambuskenneth, +1231.
  • Clement, a Dominican friar, consecrated by Bishop William of St. Andrews at the Stow Church of Wedale; founded cathedral; made exaggerated wail of poverty to the Pope, who in 1238 appointed a commission of inquiry, 1233-1258.
  • Robert de Prebenda, dean, ambassador in 1277 to Edward I.: in 1265 was Conservator of Council at Perth, 1258-1283.
  • William, one of the arbiters between John Baliol and Bruce, 1290 to c.1292.
  • Nicholas de Balmyle, monk of Arbroath, parson of Calder, lord chancellor, 1307-1320.
  • Maurice, abbot of Inchaffray, Bruce's chaplain at Bannockburn with crosier of St. Fillan; a brave patriot priest, with the old piety that reverenced relics, yet was true and fervent, 1320-1347.
  • William, 1347-1361.
  • Walter de Cambuslang or Conentre, 1362-1370.
  • Andrew, seals Act for succession of crown at Scone, 1st April, 1373.
  • Dougal, c. 1380-1399.
  • Finlay Dermoch, built bridge over Allan Water, tomb in cathedral on north side of nave, 1400-1419.
  • William Stephen, divinity-reader in 1411 at St. Andrews, Conservator of Council at Perth, 1420, 1420-1429.
  • Michael Ochiltree, dean in 1425, built Knaik Bridge at Ardoch, Bishop's Bridge at Culdees, rebuilt Culdee Church at Muthill; crowned James II. in 1437 at Holyrood, 1429-1447.
  • Robert Lauder, sent on several embassies, founder of several prebends, 1448-1458.
  • Thomas, 1459.
  • John Hepburn, a lord of session, 1467 to c. 1479.
  • James Chisholm, son of Edward Chisholm of Cromlix, chaplain to James III., 1534; a careful administrator and good bishop, 1489-1527.
  • William Chisholm, half-brother of the preceding, who resigned in his favour; a shameless wretch, who wasted the See by fraudulent tacks to his three bastards and his nephew, and who burned men for heresy, 1527-1564.
  • William Chisholm, nephew of the robber bishop, appointed by Papal brief of 2nd June, 1561, and nominated by Queen Mary in 1564; was in exile Bishop of Vaison in France, became a Carthusian of Grenoble, and died at Rome, 1564-1593.

Parochiale Dunblanense

  • Dunblane, St. Blain. Chapelry of Kilbride at Kilbride Castle.
  • Aberfoyle in Menteith. Dependent on Inchmahome. Has five lakes.
  • Abernethy, St. Brigid. Arbroath. Prebend, 1240. In See of Dunkeld in 1446. For four vicars. Probable date of round tower, 854. At first had Dron, Dunbulg, and Erole as chapels.
  • Auchterarder, St. Mungo. Inchaffray. Old church in a valley, one mile westward. Mackessock in charter of Innerpeffray.
  • Aberuthven, St. Cathan. Inchaffray, 1200. Later to Arbroath. Now joined to Auchterarder. Very ancient church survives.
  • Tullibardine. A collegiate church. Now in parish of Blackford.
  • Bondington or Boddington. Arbroath. In 1369 the lands of Boddington belonged to Peter de Innerpeffry. Bonnyton, near Montrose. (Jervise, 93.)
  • Blackford, St. Patrick. Original church was Strogeith, now in Muthill.
  • Dundurn, or St. Fillans. St. Fillan the Leper. Church here since c. 550. Associated with a fortress on Dunfillan. Now in Comrie.
  • Comrie, St. Kessog, R. [8] Paisley Abbey. Prebend. Chapel at Tullikettle. Had St. Kessog's Fair, third Wednesday of March.
  • Dron. Once chapel under Abernethy. Now includes Pottie, at the mouth of Glenfarg (see deanery of Gowrie, St Andrews), and Ecclesia Macgirdle ("Exmagirdle") at Glenearn.
  • Dunning, St. Serf, c. 1200.
  • Dupplin. Family chapel of castle. In 1618 joined to Aberdalgie.
  • Foulis, St. Methven and St. Bean (Foulis-Wester.) Inchaffray. Chapel of St. Methven at Buchanty Bridge. Also chapel at Gorthy, 1266. Renewed in 1454 by agreement between Abbot of Inchaffray and Tristam of Gorthy.
  • Fordishall or Ferdshaw. Prebend. Again under Dunkeld.
  • Gask, Holy Trinity (Trinity-Gask). Inchaffray.
  • Innerpeffray, St Mary. Mentioned 1342. Collegiate, 1508, by first Lord Drummond. In Monzie, quoad sacra to Muthill. Had Lady Fair on 25th March.
  • Kilmadoc, St. Madocus or Aidus (Doune.) Inchmahome Priory.
  • Kincardine, St. Latan or Lolan. Mentioned c. 1190 (Kincardine in Menteith). Cambuskenneth. Old parish of Lany in Kincardine, and chapelry of Balquhapple.
  • Kinkell, St. Bean. Prebend. Inchaffray. Now in Trinity-Gask. Minister of Kinkell hanged at Crieff, 1682.
  • Logie, St. Woloc (Logie, Stirling). Prebend.
  • Kippen, St. Davius or Movean. In Menteith. Prebend.
  • Lecroft or Leckraw, St Moroc or Maworrock (Lecropt, Bridge of Allan). Cambuskenneth.
  • Monzie in Stratherne. Prebend. St. Laurence Fair, 22d August. Included Logiealmond. Chapel at Tomenbowie, and Stuck Chapel with burial-grounds.
  • Monedie. Included Logiealmond, detached from Monzie.
  • Monyvaird, St. Serf, with Strowan (St. Rowan or Ronan). United before 1662.
  • Madertie, St. Ethernan (Maderty). An old abthane. Has Abbey of Inchaffray.
  • Capeth Moothill (Muthill). The Dean. Chapels and wells of St Patrick at Struthill and at Blairinroar; also, Dalpatrick across the Earn, from St. Patrick's of Strageath; Easter and Wester Feddal and Bennie (now in Ardoch), belonged to Lindores Abbey from 1198.
  • Port [of Monteith]. Included old parish of Lany or Leny.
  • St. Madocus or Aidus (St. Madoes, Perth), R. Also Samadoss.
  • Tullicultrie, St. Serf. Cambuskenneth. Colvilles of Tillicoultry, 1483-1634.
  • Crieff, St. Michael, R. Prebend. Religious house--St. Thomas at Milnab (= Abbot's Mill), belonging to Inchaffray. Besides Crieff primo and Crieff secundo in Strathearn, there was also a Crieff tertio in Perthshire, probably the outlying portion of the parish in Glenalmond round Corrymuckloch.
  • Logie-Airthray, St. Serf (Airthrey, Bridge of Allan). Nuns of North Berwick.
  • Strogeyt or Strageith, St Patrick. Once church of Blackford, now in parish of Muthill. Inchaffray. Planted by St. Fergus c. 700.
  • Callender, St. Kessaig. Chapel of Kilmahog or St. Chug.
  • Fyndogask, St. Findoca (Gask). Inchaffray.
  • Tuelliallan (Tulliallan), R. Seat of the Blackaders, who gave an archbishop to Glasgow.
  • Glendovan (Glendevon), R. Old church in Gleneagles (= Glen Eglise). Cambuskenneth.
  • Fossowy (Fossoway). Cupar Angus, c. 1310. Included Tullibole, Culross Abbey. United in 1614.
  • Buffuder, St. Angus (Balquhidder). Has Strathyre and Glenogle.
  • Prebendary, 1298, Abbot of Cambuskenneth ex officio.
  • Prebendary, 1240, for parish of Abernethy, Abbot of Arbroath ex officio.
  • Preceptor or Provost of Dunblane, Abbot of Inchaffray ex officio.

[1] II. 403.
[2] Preliminary Dissertation in Keith's "Bishops," iv.
[3] See Crawford's "Officers of State," vi.
[4] II. 404.
[5] Reeves' "British Culdees," Evidences, S., 141.
[6] "Hist. Scenes in Perthshire," 346.
[7] Ibid., 343.
[8] R=Rectory.

Near the Pictish Capital


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