William Chambers.

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

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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 11 of 37)
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The Church of St Regulus, with its square tower — to which
a fabulous antiquity was at one time ascribed — was erected
by Bishop Robert between the years 1127 and 1144. It
was not twenty years old when Bishop Arnold commenced the
building of the greater Cathedral, which, however, was not
completed till 13 18, when it was consecrated in presence of
King Robert Bruce, who then endowed it with a hundred
merks, out of gratitude for his victory at Bannockburn.

Two new dioceses were created by Alexander I. — those of
Moray and Dunkeld. The former embraced the country
beyond the river Spey. The see was successively at Birney,
Kinneddor, and Spynie. In 1224 it was removed to Elgin.
At Dunkeld there had been a monastery from very early times.
Here Kenneth Macalpin, about the year 849, founded a church,
and transferred to it the primacy of lona, with a portion of the
relics of St Columba ; and it had been the seat of the Bishopric
of the Picts, which was afterwards removed to Abernethy, and
thence to St Andrews. Cormac, who, it appears, was now
Abbot of Dunkeld, was made the first bishop of the diocese ;
and the Culdees were superseded by a Chapter of secular

7^ Sf Giles^ Lectures.

Canons. The diocese was of vast extent, and embraced Argyll,
as well as many detached places where there were anciently
Columban houses, including lona itself.

King David zealously pursued the same policy by still further
dividing the country into dioceses. While heir to the throne,
as Prince of Scottish Cumbria, he had founded or restored,
about the year 1 1 1 6, the bishopric of Glasgow, and appointed
to it John, who had been his tutor. John was consecrated by
the Pope, though, as in the case of St Andrews, a claim of
jurisdiction had been advanced by the Archbishop of York.
The diocese of Glasgow extended from the Clyde to the Solvvay
and the English Border, and from Lothian to the river Urr, and
included also the districts of Lennox and Teviotdale. On the
spot where St Kentigern had preached the Gospel by the
Molendinar Burn, Bishop John erected a Cathedral Church,
which was dedicated in 1136. But this was afterwards burned
down, and the crypt and choir of a new Cathedral — the stately
structure still existing — were completed by Bishop Jocelin in
1 197. The nave was erected between 1233 and 1258.

On David's accession to the throne he proceeded to create
additional dioceses ; and before his death six other sees had
been founded — those of Aberdeen, Ross, Caithness, Dunblane,
Brechin, and Galloway.

The bishopric of Aberdeen embraced the district between the
Dee and the Spey; and the old Columban monasteries of
Mortlach and Cloveth formed part of its endowment. — The
seat of the diocese of Ross was at first either at Rosemarky,
where a monastery had been founded in the sixth century, or at
Fortrose. — The remote province of Caithness, which embraced
the territory forming the modern counties of Caithness and
Sutherland, was held by the Norse Earls of Orkney in nominal
subjection to the Scottish crown. In founding the bishopric
of Caithness, David probably designed to strengthen his own
authority in the district. The seat of the diocese was at
Dornoch. John, the second bishop, had his tongue and eyes

Medieval Scotland. *r|^

dug out at Skrabister by the Earl of Orkney. Adam, his suc-
cessor, who had been too rigorous in exacting his tithes of
butter, was set upon by the people on a Sunday, apparently
with the connivance of the Earl, and burned to death in his own
kitchen at Halkirk. For this outrage Alexander II. inflicted
severe punishment. — The see of Dunblane was founded by the
Earl Palatine of Stratherne. The diocese appears to have been
formed chiefly out of that of Dunkeld. — At Brechin a church
had been built towards the end of the tenth century ; and it is
supposed that the abbot of the monastery connected with it was
made, as in the case of Dunkeld, the first bishop of the new
diocese; while the Abbacy passed to his son, a layman, and
became hereditary in his family. The Prior and Culdees
formed for a time the Bishop's Chapter, till they were superseded
by secular Canons. — At Candida Casa, or Whithorn, where St
Ninian had built his white church, a see had been founded or
restored in the eighth century; and as Galloway was then
subject to the kings of Northumbria, the bishop was a suffragan
of York. The see, long disused, was again restored by Fergus,
Lord of Galloway, about the end of David's reign. The bishop
was still subject to York, and remained so till the fourteenth
century. The diocese of Galloway embraced the modern
counties of Wigtown and Kirkcudbright, west of the river Urr.

The Diocesan system of the Church was now nearly com-
pleted. The only bishopric created after David's reign was
that of Lismore or Argyll, in 1222. It was formed out of the
diocese of Dunkeld, and embraced the mainland of Argyll. Its
first bishop received the appointment because he could speak
the Gaelic language of the people. The see of the diocese was
first at Muckairn, on the southern shore of Loch Etive, and was
thence removed to the island of Lismore, which was transferred
from the diocese of the Isles to that of Argyll. The Western
Isles originally formed part of the bishopric of Sodor and Man
— 'Sodor,' or the 'Sudreys,' signifying the southern, that is,
those now called the Western Islands or Hebrides, as dis-

74 S^ Giles^ Ledurei.

tinguished from the northern islands of Orkney and Shetland—
and the bishop was a suffragan of the Archbishop of Drontheim,
metropolitan of Norway. When Man was afterwards taken
possession of by England, and the Western Isles were united
to Scotland, the diocese seems to have been divided into two,
and the northern diocese was united to the Scottish Church.
The Benedictine Abbey Church of lona was used as its
Cathedral, though lona itself continued to belong to the diocese
of Dunkeld after the creation of that of Argyll. From about
the year 1498, the Abbacy of lona and the Bishopric of
the Isles were held by the same person. In 1469, Orkney and
Shetland were acquired by Scotland ; and soon afterwards the
diocese of Orkney, which had been subject to Drontheim, was
annexed to the Scottish Church.

Most of the dioceses were divided into several Rural
Deaneries : St Andrews and Glasgow into two Archdeaconries
each; and these again were subdivided into Deaneries. The
various sees were in course of time provided with Cathedral
churches, and with Chapters usually embracing a Dean,
archdeacon, chancellor, precentor, treasurer, and other ofhcials.
In the dioceses of Brechin, Ross, and Caithness, the chapter
was at first composed of Culdees ; but these were afterwards
displaced, and ultimately a dean and secular canons formed the
chapters of all the dioceses except St Andrews and Galloway,
where their places were supplied by the prior and canons-
regular of the monasteries there established. The cathedral
constitutions were mostly borrowed from England. Glasgow
and Dunkeld followed the model of Salisbury; Moray, Aber-
deen, and Caithness, those of Lincoln. The Breviary and
Missal of Salisbury formed the ritual of all the Scottish dioceses.
It is believed that organs and choirs were introduced into
Scotland in the thirteenth century.

Though the country had been divided into dioceses, it had as
yet no Metropolitan or Primate. King David had endeavoured
to procure from the Pope the erection of St Andrews into an

Medi(zval Scotland. ^ %

archbishopric ; but in consequence of the opposition of York,
the attempt was unsuccessful. It was renewed by Malcohn
IV., with no better result. In 1188, however, Pope Clement
III. issued a bull by which the Scottish Church was declared
independent of all foreign control, save that of the See of
Rome. Having no metropolitan to preside over them, the
Scottish clergy could not hold Provincial Councils without the
presence of a Papal legate — an official whose visits and pecuniary
demands were, both to the sovereigns and the clergy, objects of
special aversion. In 1225, Pope Honorius III. authorised the
holding of Provincial Councils without the presence of a legate,
for the carrying out of the decrees of General Councils, and
other purposes of discipline. Accordingly these councils now
met annually for three days when necessary, and were opened
with a sermon preached by each of the bishops in his turn.
They were composed of all the bishops, abbots, and priors ; to
whom were added in later times representatives of the capitular,
conventual, and collegiate clergy. One of the bishops was
chosen for a year as Conservator of the canons or statutes of
the council, with power to enforce them. The Conservator
also summoned the council, and presided in it, or, in his
absence, the oldest bishop. Two doctors of the civil law
attended as representatives of the sovereign. In course of
time these Councils framed a body of statutes which regulated
the proceedings of the Church till near the Reformation.^ In
1472, the Pope at length erected St Andrews into an arch-
bishopric, with the other twelve bishops as its suffragans. As
this was done on the suit of Bishop Patrick Graham, without the
knowledge or consent of the king or bishops, a conflict ensued
which proved fatal to him ; and he — the first Archbishop — ended
his days as a prisoner in Lochleven. In 1487, Schevez, his suc-
cessor, was made Primate of all Scotland and legate naius. Five

^ They have now been printed under the title Concilia Scotia, with
Preface by Dr Joseph Robertson (Bannatyne Club Series).

76 Sf Giles^ Lectures.

years later the Bishop of Glasgow was raised to the rank of
Archbishop, with the bishops of Dunkeld, Dunblane, Galloway,
and Argyll as his suffragans. These proceedings led to bitter
strife between the two archbishops, which continued till the

There were also Synods of the clergy of each diocese, pre-
sided over by their own bishop. The Diocesan Synod of
St Andrews {Scottice, Senzie or Seinye) was held either at St
Andrews in the Senzie Hall, or at Edinburgh in the Abbey
Church of Holyrood.

The next part of the process of remodelling the Scottish
Church which I have to describe is the introduction of the
Monastic Orders of the Church of Rome, with their more
thorough organisation and severer discipline, in place of the
now effete Culdees. This movement was connected with
a remarkable revival of deep religious feeling, which had
recently occurred throughout Western Christendom, and now
reached our country, impelling vast numbers of devotees to
embrace the monastic life, which they regarded as the highest
form of piety. The discipline of the cloister was observed
with increasing strictness. One leader after another appeared
in different countries of Europe, practising some new form of
asceticism, whose ' rule' was quickly and enthusiastically adopted
by thousands of followers. Those who did not themselves
assume the monkish garb, reckoned it a duty and a privilege
to found, or to contribute to the endowment of a religious
house. Kings and nobles bestowed on these establishments
their most fertile lands, and built for the dwellings, and for the
religious rites of their inmates, the most stately and beautiful
edifices. The people regarded the monks with veneration and
affection, and believed that their prayers possessed extraordi-
nary efficacy. The Monastic Orders enjoyed the special favour
and protection of the Roman Pontiffs, of whose power and
supremacy they were, in turn, the devoted supporters. In
bestowing endowments on a religious house, the donors acted

MedicBval Scotland. 7 7

under the combined influence of piety and superstition, • Some-
times they would stipulate for the privilege of being buried
within its sacred precincts : or they hoped at some future day
to find in the cloister a retreat from the strife and cares of the
world, A powerful motive to liberality was the reward which
they believed this would secure for them ; and benefactions were
usually bestowed for the salvation of the souls of the donor,
his parents and ancestors, his children and descendants, as
well as for the glory of God and the honour of the blessed
Virgin, or of the Saint to whom the house was dedicated.

The members of the monastic fraternities were called
Regulars, as being bound by the ' rule ' {reguld) of their Order ;
and were known as Canons, Monks, or Friars — all other clergy
being styled Seculars. The two most celebrated Orders were
the Augustinian canons, who followed the rule of St Augustine ;
and the Benedictine monks, who adopted that of St Benedict.
Each of these embraced several species, whose names were
derived from their founder, the place where they took their rise,
their dress, or some other circumstance. The Augustinians
comprehended the Regular Canons of St Augustine, the Prje-
monstratensians, the Red Friars, the Dominicans or Black Friars,
and the Canons of St Anthony. The Benedictines included
those of Marmoutier, styled Black Monks ; of Cluny ; and of
Tiron ; the Cistercians, or White Monks ; and the Monks of
Vallis-caulium. There were also the Carmelites, or White
Friars ; the Franciscans, or Grey Friars ; the Carthusians, and
others. Of these numerous Orders, most had ample endow-
ments for their maintenance. Such were termed Rented
Religious. The Dominicans, Carmelites, and Franciscans, who
subsisted chiefly on alms, were called Mendicant or Begging
Friars. The greater houses were styled Abbeys ; the lesser.
Priories : presided over by an Abbot and Prior respectively.
An Abbot's deputy in his own monastery was also called a
Prior. Many of the Priories were subject to the larger Abbeys.

While the several Orders differed from each other in various

78 iS/ cues' Lectures,

ways, they were all bound by the three rules of poverty, chastity,
and obedience. Their members could hold no private pro-
perty, but were permitted in their corporate capacity to receive
lands, and other possessions and privileges. They were all
subject to strict regulations in regard to their food and dress,
and the disposal of their time. Daily they performed their
devotional services in church seven times together, and also
assembled in the Chapter-house for discipline. During meals
the Holy Scriptures or other edifying books were read aloud to
the assembled brethren by one of their number. The rest of
the day was devoted to some useful occupation, such as the
copying and illumination of manuscripts, works of art connected
with the buildings or decorations of the monastery, or the prac-
tice of gardening and agriculture. Members of the brotherhood
were set apart to certain conventual offices, such as chamber-
lain, refectioner, cellarer, almoner, infirmarer, hospitaller,
librarian, treasurer, porter, master of the novices. For the
management of their secular business, a certain number of
lay brethren, called converts, were admitted into the community.
Over all ruled the Abbot or Prior, chosen by the suffrages of the
monks, and wielding extensive authority. The Superiors of the
greater houses possessed the privilege of wearing the mitre,
which carried with it the power of conferring minor Orders on
the members ; and in general the monasteries were independent
of the bishop of the diocese, and were accountable only to the
General Chapter of the Order, subject to review by the Pope.

Though St Margaret founded a church at Dunfermline,
neither she nor her royal husband founded any Religious house.
Her sons, in different degrees, distinguished themselves in this
way. King Edgar, about the year 1097, restored the monastery
of Coldingham, which, after experiencing a strange and romantic
history, had for centuries been ruined and abandoned. He
erected it into a priory, and placed in it Benedictine monks,
whom he brought from Durham — the first of that order who
were introduced into Scotland. After a brief reign, Edgar was

Mediceval Scotland. 79

succeeded by Alexander I., who pursued a similar policy. At
Scone there had been a monastery of great antiquity, and there
was now a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity — a place
rendered famous by the coronation there of the Scottish kings
on that ' fatal stone ' which was believed to have served Jacob
for his pillow, and still lends a peculiar interest to the Coronation
Chair at Westminster. Here Alexander founded an abbey for
canons-regular of St Augustine, who were now brought into
Scotland for the first time, from St Oswald's, near Pontefract.
Robert, an Englishman, was the first Superior of the house. The
king bestowed on the new foundation a priory of the same
order, which he established in an island in Loch Tay, where his
consort. Queen Sibylla, daughter of Henry I. of England, was
buried. Yet another religious house owed its existence to
Alexander. Having on one occasion, while crossing the Forth
during a storm, been cast on the island of ^monia, where
there lived a hermit who followed the discipline of St Columba ;
and having with his attendants subsisted for three days on the
hermit's humble fare of milk, small fishes, and shell-fish, the
king founded there a monastery, which he dedicated to St
Columba, to whom he believed he owed his escape from
shipwreck ; and the island thereafter was known by the name
of Inchcolm, or Columba's Isle. One of the abbots of this
house was Walter Bower, the continuator of Fordun's Scoti-

With the view of establishing at St Andrews a monastic
fraternity of the Anglican type, Alexander restored to its
church the lands called the Boar's Chase ; and caused
' His comely steed of Araby,
Saddled and bridled costlily,'

and covered with a mantle of rich velvet, to be led up to the
altar, and, along with his Turkish armour, shield and spear of
silver, and many precious jewels, presented as a symbol of pos-
session. The monastery was, however, not actually founded
till the following reign.

Sf ales' Lectures.

The most munificent patron of the monks was the saintly
King David ; and many of the houses founded by him also
were restorations of decayed Columban institutions. While
he was yet Prince of Cumbria, he founded two monasteries
— those of Selkirk and Jedburgh. The former was soon
removed to Kelso, and was supplied with Reformed Bene-
dictine monks from Tiron in France. Its mitred Abbots
at one time claimed precedence of the heads of all the
religious houses of the kingdom. To Jedburgh David
brought Augustinian canons-regular from Beauvais. After his
accession to the throne, he converted his mother's church at
Dunfermline into a monastery for Benedictine monks, whom he
brought from Canterbury, and its first abbot was Geoffrey,
Prior of Canterbury. The abbey of Dunfermline succeeded
lona as the burial-place of the Scottish kings. David also
founded for Augustinian canons-regular the abbey of Holy-
rood, so called from the famous Black Rood which he presented
to it. This crucifix, which was believed to inclose a portion of
the true Cross, was brought into Scotland by St Margaret. For
canons of the same Order brought from Aroise, near Arras, King
David founded Cambuskenneth Abbey ; and for Cistercian
monks, Melrose, Newbottle, and Kinloss ; besides several more
monasteries for other Orders. Melrose got its monks from
Rievaux in Yorkshire, and was the mother of most of the
Cistercian houses in Scotland.

In 1 144, King David co-operated with Robert, Bishop of St
Andrews, in founding in that city a priory for Augustinian
canons, who were brought thither from Scone. A great portion
of the secularised revenues of the ancient monastery of St
Andrews — of which King Constantine, two centuries before,
having retired from the world, had become the Abbot — was
eventually bestowed on this new community of regulars, who
were placed there that they might supersede the Culdees.
King David now ordained that the latter should be admitted
into the Priory as canons, if they were willing to become

Mediaeval Scotland. 8 1

canons : if unwilling, they were to be allowed to retain their
possessions during their life; and as they died out, canons-
regular were to be instituted in their place, and their endow-
ments transferred to the Priory. Soon afterwards, the Pope
deprived the Culdees of their right of electing the bishop.
They, however, stoutly resisted these changes, and for more
than a century maintained, with more or less success, their
right to share with the canons in the bishop's election. It was
not till 1273 they were finally deprived of this privilege. In
1258 they lost their position as vicars of the parish church of
St Andrews, and became eventually known as the Provost and
prebendaries of ' Our Lady College of the Heugh,' or the
' Church of the Blessed Mary of the Rock ' — the Chapel-Royal
of Scotland — the Provost continuing to be instituted, not by the
Bishop, but by the finger-ring of the lay patron, the King of
the Scots. The Priory of St Andrews rapidly rose to the first
position, in wealth and honours, among the religious houses of
the kingdom. Its Superior was mitred, and in the time of
King James I. obtained precedence in Parliament above all
Abbots and Priors.

Harsher treatment than that received by the Culdees of St
Andrews was now the lot of their brethren of Lochleven, who
had there for centuries kept alive the knowledge of religion,
and had received endowments from several Celtic bishops and
sovereigns, including Macbeth and his wife Gruoch. In the
tenth century this interesting community, with Ronan their
abbot, had made over their monastery to the Bishop of St
Andrews, on condition that he would supply them with food
and raiment. This transaction enabled Bishop Robert now
to bestow on the priory of St Andrews the abbacy of Loch-
leven, with all its revenues, and its" little library of sixteen
manuscript volumes — the names of which are preserved — that a
body of canons-regular might be there established. In a
charter to the same effect, King David ordains that ' the
Culdees who shall be found there, if they consent to live as


8 2 S^ Giles^ Lectures.

regulars, shall be permitted to remain in society with, and
subject to the others ; but should any of them be disposed to
offer resistance, his will and pleasure is, that such shall be
expelled from the island.' A priory of Augustinian canons was
now therefore settled in Lochleven. One of its Superiors was
Andrew Wyntoun, author of the Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland.
The Culdees of Monimusk, who also were connected with the
church of St Andrews, were in a somewhat similar manner
superseded by a community of Augustinian canons-regular, as
were likewise the Culdees of Abernethy.

To King David also is ascribed the introduction into
Scotland of the Military Orders — the Templars and Knights of
St John — instituted for the defence of the Temple of Jerusalem
against the infidels, and for the entertainment of pilgrims.
The principal house of the former order was at Temple in Mid-
lothian, and that of the latter at Torphichen. The Templars
were suppressed by the Pope in 13 12, and their possessions,
which were numerous in this country, were bestowed on the
Knights of St John.

The most important of the royal foundations subsequent to
David's reign was the great and richly endowed abbey of
Arbroath, begun by William the Lion in 1178, seven years after
the death of Thomas k Becket, to whom it was afterwards dedi-
cated. Its founder was buried before its high altar in 12 14.
Fifteen years later, his widow, Queen Ermengarde, founded a
Cistercian abbey at Balmerino. This house, which was beauti-
fully situated on the south shore of the Firth of Tay, was dedi-
cated to St Mary and St Edward the Confessor, and was asso-
ciated with memories of subsequent Scottish queens. Before
the high altar of the Abbey Church, Queen Ermengarde was
interred in the year 1233, in presence of her son Alexander
II. Towards the end of the twelfth century, the abbey of
Lindores was 'founded for Tironensian monks by David, Earl
of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion, on his return
from the Crusades.

Medieval Scotland. 83

The nobles of the land followed the example thus set by the
royal family, by founding other religious houses, or by adding
to the endowments of those already existing. Next to King
David, the most munificent friend of the monks was Fergus, the
semi-independent Lord of Galloway, who founded monasteries
at Soulseat — to which he brought canons from Premontre —
Whithorn, St Mary's Isle, Tungland, Holywood, and Dun-

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 11 of 37)