William Chambers.

The Scottish church from the earliest times to 1881 to which is prefixed an historical sketch of St. Giles' Cathedral online

. (page 10 of 37)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersThe Scottish church from the earliest times to 1881 to which is prefixed an historical sketch of St. Giles' Cathedral → online text (page 10 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

vision led him to devote himself to the monastic life, at the age
of twenty-five. First, at Dull, in Strathtay : next, in the newly-
founded monastery of Ripon ; Cuthbert found occupation. He
returned to Melrose, of which House he became Prior : but in
the year 664 a.d. he left Melrose and became Prior of Lindis-
farne. In both places, his Hfe was one of severe austerity : and
he preached in all the country far and near. A visit which he
paid to the Solway is perpetuated in the name of Kirkcud-
bright. After twelve years at Lindisfarne, he withdrew from
the monastery and for nine years lived as a hermit in a rude
cell of unhewn stones and turf which he built for himself in the
island of Fame. In 685 a.d., by the choice of the king and
people of Northumbria, Cuthbert became Bishop of Hexham ;
which in the same year he exchanged for the see of Lindisfarne.
Only for two years did St Cuthbert hold that office. They
were years of indefatigable labour, and of visiting the wildest
parts of his diocese to preach to the people, still half-heathen.
Finally, feeling the approach of death, he returned to his soli-
tary cell at Fame, where in a few weeks he died. This was in
687 A.D. He was buried at Lindisfarne : but found his final
resting-place at Durham, ' where his Cathedral, huge and vast,
looks down upon the Wear.' It was more than three hundred
years after his death before he was laid there. When the seat
of the Bishops of Northumbria was removed from Lindisfarne,
it was first to Chester-le-Street, a few miles North of Durham :

^° Sf Giles' Lectures.

and it was not till 995 a.d. that the great Anglican see of the
JNorth came to bear its present name.

But though St Cuthbert's fame be great, and though he was
a Scotchman, we must leave him. For his great work was not
done m Scotland. And my time draws to an end
r/^ T''r^'\^^ beginning of the eighth century, a few years
after St Cuthbert died, that a name begins to appear, formerly
wholly unknown, and of much interest in Scottish Church-
history : the name of Culdee.

Within the Monastic Church there grew up a tendency to
forsake the Monastic life for the life of the Anchorite, or
Hermit. Severe as were the austerities of the Monastic life
when lived according to its first idea, there was something
beyond it : there was a possible life of greater austerity still
Absolute loneliness might be added to the unworldly self-denial
of the devout monastic. And the desolate cell of St Cuthbert
on his uninhabited island, or the ocean-cave of St Regulus on
St Andrews Bay, implied a harder and sterner life than did the
wattled huts or even the beautiful towers of the monastery in
Its garden-like tract of cultivated land, where men might at
least fast and watch and afflict body and soul in contpany
Here was more to suffer, if God was to be pleased by suffering
self-mflicted. Here was a discipline which might further lift
up the soul, and cleanse the thoughts of the heart. Earlv in
the history of the Christian Church this feeling came in : found-
ing, doubtless, on something in human nature : founding too
on an overstrained inteipretation of certain words of'holv
Scripture. Having been trained for a while in a monastery
those who sought after perfection would pass to a fonely life
The famous 'unspotted from the world:' the mention of 'a
chosen generation, a peculiar people :' were taken to point this
way._ Such a life was held also to be a devotion, a cultus
specially pleasing to God the Father. And hence the Anchor-
ites came to be called Deicolc, God-wors/nJ^pers, in contrast to
Christtcolce, Christ-worshippers, which all Christian people were

Early Christian Scotland. 61

held to be. These soUtaries were especially the people of God.
They were gradually brought under the monastic rule : and
solitaries as they were, they were associated in a sense in com-
munities. The Deicolce, the God-fearing (to use a word not
quite forgotten in homely Scotch speech), were called in
Ireland Ceile De : in Scotland, Keledei. Whence, plainly
enough, Cnldce. At Culross, at Lochleven, at Dysart, they
found their place. And in a spot more sacred and more
renowned they have left their record and memorial : in the
famous though httle City of St Andrews.

In 710 A.D. Nectan king of the Picts placed his kingdom
under the care of St Peter. But the day was to come when the
Patron Saint of Scotland should be, as ever since, St Andrew,
first-called of the Apostles, and brother of the more illustrious
one on whom, as a Rock, Christ would build His Church.
Each brother was crucified, but neither quite as was his Master.
The legend is that it was at Patras, in Achaia, that St Andrew
gained the Martyr's crown. St Regulus, a monk of Constanti-
nople, and perhaps Bishop of Patras, three hundred and eighty
years after St Andrew's death, carried away his bones, or part of
them. He sailed away, voyaging among the Greek Islands for
a year and a half, and wherever he landed erecting an oratory
in honour of St Andrew. Finally, after a stormy voyage towards
the North, on the Eve of St Michael's Day, he was wrecked on
the Pictish shore at a place then called Mitckross, The Pro-
montory of the Wild Boar. Here he erected a cross which he
had brought from Patras. King Hungus, or Angus, or perhaps
his Queen, gave the ground to God and St Andrew His Apostle,
' with waters, meadows, fields, pastures, moors and woods, as a
gift for ever.' In the presence of the Pictish nobles. King
Hungus offered a turf on the altar of St^ Andrew in token of
the gift. And the spot, having borne in succession the names
of Muckross, Kilrymont, Kilrule, finally received that by which
it is well known in the history of Church and Nation. It
became St Andrews. And here, besides the group which

62 Sf Giles^ Lectures.

consisted of Bishop Regulus, his Priests and Deacons, his
Hermits, and certain Virgins, there Avas a community of the
Keledei, God-fearing men, who are represented as having had
wives, and as performing sacred rites after a manner of their
own, differing from that of the Church CathoHc. How far
differing, it is quite impossible to say.

But the comfortless caves of the first God-fearing hermits had
grown into comfortable cottages, in which each Culdee dwelt
separately with his wife and children. Church-offices had come
to be hereditary. The cure was coming to be lost in the living.
And these metamorphosed Culdees held, as Provost and Chapter,
the Church of St Mary of the Rock, now the most desolate
among the many ruins of a city of ruins. They were likewise
Vicars of the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity of St Andrews :
still the Parish Church of that city, but now generally known by
the less decorous name of the Town Church. It is yet a
building of much interest, though it suffered miserably at the
hands of ignorant meddlers a hundred years ago. But it is
capable of restoration : and restoration will come in time,
though perhaps not in our time.

It is near the end of the Ninth Century that we find the first
mention of the Scottish Church. Certain privileges were given
to it by Giric, king of Pictland. Giric was driven into exile :
and his successors took the title of Kings of Alban: which
means the region from the Forth to the Spey. There was but one
Bishop, Avho ruled all the Scottish Church. His seat had been
removed from Abernethy to St Andrews : and he was called
Bishop of Alban. In 1005 a.d. Malcolm II. began his reign
over Alban, now first called Scotia. And gradually the Bishop
of the Scots came to be called indifferently of Alban and of St

The days of the Celtic Church were drawing to an end. We
have sometimes been told that the impending change was for
the worse : that a pure and independent National Church
was subjected to the tyranny of Rome. But the glory of

Early Christian Scotland. 63

the Columban Church had mainly departed. Its temporahties
had been seized by laymen. It is a mistake to think that only
at the Reformation the Church of this country was plundered
by hypocritical robbers. Whenever the Church had anything to
be seized, there were greedy hands to seize it. And much
spiritual error was now mingled with the Church's teaching.
The times cried aloud for Reform. The change came mainly
through the work of one of the sweetest and gentlest souls
named in our annals, the sainted Margaret.

In 1069 A.D. King Malcolm married Margaret, an English
Princess, the representative of Alfred and the niece of the
Confessor. They were married at Dunfermline. There is but
one story of her touching beauty, of her unselfish and holy
life, of her wonderful influence over the rude people among
whom it was appointed her to live. ' In her presence,' says her
biographer, 'nothing unseemly was ever done or uttered.' She
was masterful, though so gentle. By goodness and sweetness
she got her own way. She was profoundly attached to the Church
of her birth and bringing-up ; and by no means liked the rude
ways of Scotland. Her time was short : she was married at twenty-
four, and died at forty-seven : died, like some of the best of the
race, broken-hearted. But for these years she set herself stead-
fastly to conform the Church of her adoption to the manner of
Catholic Christendom. Her tact, her energy, her quiet resolu-
tion, were as her loveliness in body and soul. She enlisted her
husband to her part. She called divers Councils : at one of
these she held a three-days' discussion with the clergy ; and
(strange to say) convinced them. The special points she
pressed are recorded. She shewed how Lent ought to begin
on Ash-Wednesday and not on the first Sunday in it : stating
the usual reason, too familiar for repetition. She restored the
observance of the Lord's Day, long neglected. It is to St
Margaret that Scotland owes her solemnly-kept Sundays.
Specially, she condemned the evil custom which had crept in of
celebrating the Communion without any one receiving it. The

64 . S^ Gilei Lectures.

fear of eating and drinking judgment through unworthy com-
municating had led to a fashion so indefensible and unchristian
that we might doubt its possibility did it not exist, along with cer-
tain kindred and gloomy superstitions, in some parts of Scotland
still. Religious changes, when uncomplicated with political
events, are slow : and St Margaret had seen only the beginning of
the better way when she was called to her rest. In 1093 a.d.
her health had failed through the severe discipline in which she
lived. Lying one day on her bed, she had offered earnest
prayer : when suddenly her son Edgar entered, returned from
the army, which was besieging Alnwick Castle in Northumber-
land. ' How fares it with the King and my Edward ? ' she
asked : and receiving no answer, she entreated the truth might
be told her. ' Your husband and your son are both slain,' was
the reply. The Queen lifted her eyes to Heaven, and said :
' Praise and blessing be to Thee, Almighty God, that Thou
hast been pleased to make me endure so bitter anguish in the
hour of my departure, thereby, as I trust, to purify me in some
measure from the corruption of my sins. And Thou, Lord
Jesu Christ, who, through the will of the Father, hast given
life to the world by Thy death, have mercy on me.' And,
saying these words, gentle St Margaret died. Never was
worthier life or death.

In the same year, 1093 a.d., died the last native Bishop of
Alban. The place remained empty for fourteen years. It was
a time of strife and of transition. Then a line began, bearing
the title of Bishops of St Andrews. The title of Archbishop
did not come till the latter half of the fifteenth century, St
Margaret's three sons, reigning in succession, the last the saintly
David, carried on her work. The old Celtic element went.
Churches were made territorial, not tribal. Parishes and
dioceses came in. Bishops ruled and did not merely ordain.
Sees were multiplied. The Culdees were absorbed, and in
some cases suppressed. How, it falls to my successor to tell




MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND, 1093 to 1513 a.d.

By the Rev. James Campbell, D.D., Minister of Balmerino.

'T'HE long period of four hundred and twenty years of our
-*- ecclesiastical history of which I have to give an account
is marked by the rise and growth of so many institutions, and
the occurrence of so many important events, as to preclude an
exhaustive treatment of it in the limited space at my disposal.
All that I can here attempt is to sketch in outline the recon-
struction of the Scottish Church in the twelfth century after the
pattern then prevailing throughout Western Christendom, and
the further development of this system onwards to the time
when, through internal corruption, it had lost its energy and
usefulness, and only awaited the shock by which it was to fee

Students of the history of this period enjoy one signal
advantage, which is denied to explorers of the previous ages.
Of the four centuries extending from the days of Cumin and
Adamnan, who wrote Lives of St Columba, to the death of
Malcolm Canmore, we possess scarcely any of those native

66 Sf Giles' Lectures.

contemporary chronicles in which England and Ireland are so
rich ; and the inquirer must have recourse to the meagre and
too often misleading information supplied by foreign annalists,
or by legends and traditions which were not committed to
writing till many centuries after the death of those to whom
they refer. But when we reach the twelfth century we enter
upon a new era. Land is then coming to be held by feudal
charter; important transactions are set forth in formal documents
attested by many witnesses ; the endowments and privileges
of religious houses and bishoprics are carefully inscribed in
their registers ; chronicles composed by churchmen make their
appearance. Vast stores of such records have been preserved :
very many of them have in recent years been printed ; and
the materials thus available bring us out of darkness into the
light of authentic history.

It is this light, coming in with the twelfth century, which
reveals the Celtic Church in a state of decay. While the
greater portion of the endowments of the monasteries was held
as private property by lay magnates who assumed the name of
Abbot, the duties of that office were left to a Prior presiding
usually over twelve Culdees, who enjoyed only certain minor
revenues. This was substantially the state of things at St
Andrews, Abernethy, Brechin, Monifieth, Dunkeld, and other
places. In some cases the monastic community came to be
represented by a solitary priest. In course of time the
Culdee clergy were superseded, as we shall see, or otherwise

The Church lands which were secularised were in some
instances very extensive. The hereditary possessor of the
great monastery of Applecross was able, with his vassals, to
give Alexander II. such powerful assistance in war that he was
rewarded by being created Earl of Ross. The lay Abbot of
Glendochart ranked with the Earls of Atholl and Menteith.
Most of the possessions of the monastery of Abernethy were
held by a layman named Orm, ancestor of the baronial house

Medmval Scotland. 67

of Abernethy. Crinan, the lay Abbot of Dunkeld, married
Bethoc, daughter of Malcolm II., and thus became the pro-
genitor of our Scottish kings. The Church lands were fre-
quently termed Abthane — a word which some have erroneously
understood as denoting an office — and in the name Appin, still
applied to two widely separated districts, we have a memorial
of the ancient monasteries of Dull and Lismore.^

The assimilation of the Scottish Church to the English, and
thus to the Roman model, begun by St Margaret, and con-
tinued by her three sons and their successors, involved the
extinction of the remaining Culdee clergy. But neither the
causes which led to this change, nor the means by which it
was effected, can be rightly understood without reference to a
great though peaceful revolution which had commenced in the
reign of Malcolm Canmore, and was destined to have a lasting
influence both on Church and State. This was a migration, on
a very extensive scale, of settlers from England. The tyranny
of William the Conqueror drove many of his subjects, both
Saxons and Normans, to seek a refuge in the northern king-
dom, which possessed for the former an additional attrac-
tion after the Scottish sovereign's marriage to the Princess
Margaret, sister of Edgar Atheling, the heir of the Saxon line.
This immigration was greatly encouraged both by Malcolm
himself and his successors, whose education and tastes were
for the most part English. During several reigns the tide con-
tinued to flow across the Border. The land was being filled
with strangers ; especially its southern and eastern districts.
The immigrants, many of whom were persons of rank, received
grants of land from the Crown. They married Scottish

' I may here once for all refer to the following works as the authorities
I have chiefly consulted, besides the standard Histories and Chartularies of
Religious Houses : Mr Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. ii. ; Innes's Sketches of
Early Scotch History ; the same author's Scotland in the Middle Ages;
W. E. Robertson's Scotland under her Early Kings; Keith's Historical
Catalogue of Scottish Bishops ; and Spottiswoode's Religious Houses.

68 Sf Giles^ Lectures.

heiresses. They obtained the highest public offices. The
power and wealth of the kingdom were passing away from
the Celtic people, who were henceforth to hold a subordinate
place in the land they had ruled. Throughout a large
portion of the country the Celtic language died out : the Celtic
population was absorbed ; and Scottish customs and insti-
tutions were being conformed to those of England. It was
the commencement of a process which has been going on,
with some interruptions, ever since : which is going on now,
and with increasing rapidity, as intercourse with the South is
becoming ever more extended.

The remodelling of the Scottish Church was carried out
mainly by the establishment of Parishes, and the introduction
of Diocesan Episcopacy and the Monastic Orders of the Church
of Rome. These several processes went on simultaneously,
and were closely connected with each other. But a distinct
idea of them can perhaps be best given by describing them
separately. The formation of Parishes may be taken first.

The organisation of the Celtic Church was monastic, not
parochial. In many cases a tribe or a province possessed its
own monastery, endowed by some former chief, and supplying
Christian rites to the people around. There were also founda-
tions which did not possess this tribal character. Sometimes a
monastery had under its charge a group of neighbouring churches.
Mortlach, in Aberdeenshire, with its five churches, was an
instance of such an arrangement. Those structures have perished.
Yet memorials of not a few of their founders still remain. We
can often recognise the name of the first evangelist of a district
in the saint to whom its church was afterwards dedicated ;
in the well at which he baptised his converts ; in the ' fair ' or
festival (for such is the original meaning of the term) held on
his ' day,' and still known by his name ; in the stone seat on
which the good man was wont to rest ; or in the cave to which
he retired for shelter or meditation. Such memorials are
numerous throughout the Scottish mainland and islands.

McdicBval Scotland. 69

Those primitive churches must, in many cases, have practi-
cally served as * parish ' churches by furnishing rehgious
ordinances to the inhabitants of a definite territory. But
parochial churches in the proper sense, mainly supported by
tithes drawn from the district which they supply, were almost
unknown till about the commencement of the twelfth century.
The formation of parishes was promoted by the sovereigns,
whose efforts were zealously seconded by the Norman and
Saxon settlers. The proprietor of a manor built a church,
or adopted one already existing, for the use of himself
and his people, endowed it with the tithes of his land, and
nominated a priest, with the sanction of the bishop, to
serve it. His manor came to be regarded as a parish; and
this was the origin of parishes, tithes, and patronage. We
have an interesting example of the erection and endowment of
a church, and the formation of a parish, in the case of Ednam,
in the Merse. Thor, one of the new settlers from England,
states, in a charter granted by him, that ' King Edgar gave to
me Ednaham, waste, which I, by his assistance and my own
money, have inhabited ; and I have built from the foundation
a church, which the king caused to be dedicated in honour of
St Cuthbert, and endowed it with one plough of land.'^ It
appears that the tithes of the manor were also given to the
church of Ednam — in short it constituted a parish. It is the
first parish of whose formation we possess a distinct record.
Six centuries later it was the birthplace of the poet of the
Seasons, his father being its Minister.

Reasons of convenience frequently caused parishes to be
subdivided. If a manor was extensive, one or more chapels
would be erected in distant parts of it for the accommodation
of the people residing there ; and these chapels would in course
of time acquire parochial rights. Or if an estate was divided
among several proprietors, each of them would build a church

^ N^ational MSS. of Scotland, vol. i. No. xiv.

70 Sf Gi/es* Lectures.

for his own people. In some cases a parish intersected by a
river, or by mountains, required a church for each of its
divisions. If a burgh arose within a parish, a new church
would be required for itself. Thus the parish of Edinburgh
was taken out of St Cuthbert's.

The institution of Parishes was the most valuable part of the
organisation of the Mediaeval Church ; and it has proved to be
the most lasting. No better expedient could have been devised
for the instruction of the whole population. It is an interesting
circumstance that after all the revolutions through which the
Scottish Church has passed since the twelfth century, the
Parochial system is at the present time not only in vigorous
operation, but continuously undergoing that extension which is
rendered necessary by the increase of the population. Its
efficiency in the Middle Ages was, however, grievously impaired,
as we shall see, by the bestowal of the revenues of Parish
churches on Monks and Bishops.

Another part of the process of assimilating the Scottish to the
English Church was the introduction of Diocesan Episcopacy,
which, it is now generally allowed, had no existence in Scotland
till the twelfth century. The see of St Andrews — as yet the sole
' bishopric of the Scots ' — first claims our attention. On the
accession of King Alexander, he proceeded to fill up the vacancy
which had existed since the death of the last Celtic bishop, by
appointing, with the consent of the clergy and people, Turgot,
Prior of Durham, who had been his mother's confessor and
biographer. This was the first of a series of Englishmen who
filled the see. His appointment led to a controversy involving
the independence of the Scottish Church. The Primate of
York claimed the right of consecrating Turgot, on the plea
that the province of York embraced the whole of Scotland.
The King and clergy resisted this plea. The matter was ulti-
mately settled by a compromise. Turgot was consecrated by
the Archbishop of York, the rights of both Churches being
expressly reserved. On the death of Turgot, Alexander,

Medicevai Scotland. 7*

in order to prevent a repetition of the claims of York,
requested the Archbishop of Canterbury to recommend a fit
person for the office. Eadmer, a monk of Canterbury, was
accordingly sent to St Andrews. But he, after his election, pro-
posed to go back to Canterbury for consecration. The King,
being resolved to maintain the independence of the Church,
indignantly refused his consent to such a step. After a
lengthened dispute, Eadmer resigned his appointment, and
returned to Canterbury. Ultimately, Robert, Prior of Scone,
was appointed to the see of St Andrews, and, after Alexander's
death, was consecrated by the Primate of York on conditions
similar to those agreed on in Turgot's case. Arnold, the next
bishop, was consecrated in the Cathedral Church of St Regulus
— King David being present — by the Bishop of Moray as Papal
legate, though the pretensions of York were not abandoned.

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersThe Scottish church from the earliest times to 1881 to which is prefixed an historical sketch of St. Giles' Cathedral → online text (page 10 of 37)