Saint Machar

Interior of Cathedral Church of St. Machar, Old Aberdeen.

St Machor was one of the disciples of St Columba, the famous apostle of the Northern Picts and founder of the celebrated monastery of Iona. According to the ‘Aberdeen Breviary,’ “sanctum virum gignit Hibernia, educavit illum Albania, cujus corpus in reverentia Turonensis tenet ecclesia.” He was the son of Syaconus or Fiachna, an Irish kingling, and Synchena or Finchœmia, his wife, both of whom appear to have been Christians. At baptism, a rite which, according to the ‘Aberdeen Breviary’ was performed for him by St Colman, he received the name of Mocumma. St Colman was also his first instructor. Proofs and indications of his sanctity were vouchsafed while he was yet a child. Angels visited him, and hovered around his home and cradle; at the touch of his body his dead brother was restored to life, and twice he was miraculously delivered from death by drowning and by fire. Sent by his father to be instructed by St Columba, he soon became a most devoted scholar and disciple of that saint. When Columba was about to leave Ireland for Scotland, Mocumma refused to be left behind, and resolved to leave his country and home and friends in order to be with him. Overjoyed with the zeal and attachment of his disciple, Columba changed his name from Mocumma to Machor or Machar. When they landed on the island of Iona, Machor was carried ashore by a certain Melluma. After the cells had been built and the community thoroughly established in their new home, St Columba sent Machor to evangelise the island of Mull. There he preached the Gospel over the whole land and healed seven lepers. Returning to Iona after the completion of his work in Mull, he devoted himself to study and to the copying of the Scriptures, one of the chief works in which the disciples of Columba were engaged. One day as he wrote the light failed him, but blowing on “his fyngre-end,” a bright light immediately issued from it, and lighted him until his task was done. The fame which this and other miracles brought him, soon caused great companies to gather around him, offering him gifts, all of which, however, he refused to accept. On the other hand, his fellow-disciples were moved with jealousy, and attempted to poison him. Alarmed for the personal safety of his favourite disciple, Columba advised him to withdraw from the island, and preach the Gospel elsewhere. Machor accepted his advice, and Columba gave him seven, or, according to another account, twelve companions, a bishop’s staff, a girdle, two coats, and a number of books, and then sent him away in a “galay” or boat, but not before his fellow-disciples who had made the attempt on his life had been reconciled to him. Machor landed in the north of Scotland, where a Christian man named Farcare resided, who received him with great joy, and allowed him to choose any portion of his land on which to build his cell. After much searching, he selected a piece in the shape of a bishop’s staff, which answered to the description Columba had given him of the place where he was to fix his dwelling. Here he caused a “costly kirk” to be built, and miraculously provided a supply of water for the thirsty workmen. Here also he collected round him a great company of disciples. St Devenick came to visit him, and the two agreed that St Devenick should preach the Gospel in Caithness, and that St Machor should confine himself to the Picts. St Machor threw himself into his work with great earnestness, and converted a large number of Picts and wrought numerous miracles. He changed a bear, which was destroying the harvest, into a stone; he overcame a heathen sorcerer named Dinon or Dron, and then converted and baptised him; he gave sight to a man that was born blind, and raised Synchenus, who belonged to the kindred of St Columba, from death to life; two young Irishmen, attracted by his fame, having mocked him, came by a violent end; having ploughed a large field which was lean and dry, and seed failing him with which to sow it, he sent to borrow some from St Teman, who sent instead a sack of sand — but sowing this, it sprang up and bore an abundant harvest; a bone which had stuck in the throat of a man Avho had despised him, he safely extracted, and received in return a piece of land on which to build a church. One day St Teman came to visit him; he entertained him, and the two held a long conversation on heavenly things, Machor becoming the instructor of his visitor, and causing him to marvel at his wisdom. As he lay on the point of death St Devenick besought his disciples to carry his dead body to one of the churches of St Machor for burial, and, instructed by a vision, the latter went to meet the funeral procession. He met it near the Hill of Croscan, and accompanied it to Banchory-Devenick, where the saint was buried, and a church erected over his tomb. When St Columba proceeded on his pilgrimage to Rome, Machor accompanied him. Both were graciously received by Gregory the Great, who appointed Machor bishop of the Picts, or, according to another account, bishop of Tours, changed his name to Morice or Mauritius, and instructed him in the duties of a bishop. On their return journey Columba and Machor visited Tours. The clergy of that city were then searching for the body of St Martin. On applying to St Columba for assistance, he promised to help them on the condition that he should have whatever he found with the body. His search was successful and along with the body he found a missal or “a book of the Gospel,” which he treasured all the remainder of his life as a precious relic. St Columba then took his way home, but left Machor, much against his will, though at the earnest request of the people of Tours. For the space of three years and a half St Machor occupied the Chair of St Martin, by whom he was visited. His deathbed was visited by St Martin from heaven, by St Columba from Iona, and by the Son of God, and ever and around it were the company of the Apostles, and a great host of heavenly beings.

The old Latin life from which the six lections in the ‘Aberdeen Breviary,’ November 12, and the passages in Colgan’s ‘Trias Thaumaturga,’ 318, 514, appear to have been taken, is now lost. Besides these, cf. Reeves, ‘Life of St Columba by Adamnan’; Forbes, ‘Kal. of Scottish Saints,’ sub Mauritius; J. Smith, ‘Life of St Columba.’ The narrative given in the Legend is the longest and fullest and most important known. Machor is mentioned in the Arbuthnott and Aberdeen Calendars, and in Adam King’s, where he is said to have lived during the reign of ‘King Soluathius in Scotland.” The ‘Menologium Scotium’ refers to him, January 15 and November 12. and in the Calendar of David Camerarius he occurs under November 13.

His day is November 12.

— John Barbour, Legends of the Saints, ed. W. M. Metcalfe, Vol. III, Edinburgh: Wm. Blackwood and Sons, 1896.

An Holy Hest

THE VOYAGE OF COLUMBA.

I.

“Son of Brendan, I have willed it;
I will leave this land and go
To a land of savage mountains,
Where the Borean breezes blow;
To a land of rainy torrents,
And of barren, treeless isles,
Where the winter frowns are lavish,
And the summer scantly smiles;
I will leave this land of bloodshed,
Where fierce brawls and battles sway,
And will preach God’s peaceful Gospel
In a grey land, far away.”
Beathan spake, the son of Brendan—
“Son of Phelim, art thou wise?
Wilt thou change the smiling Erin,
For the scowling Pictish skies?
Thou, the lealest son of Erin,
Thou, a prince of royal line,
Sprung by right descent from mighty
Neill, whose hostages were nine?
Wilt thou seek the glens of Albyn,
For repose from loveless strife?
Glens, where feuds, from sire to grandson,
Fan the wasteful flame of life?
Wilt thou leave a land of learning,
Home of ancient holy lore,
To converse with uncouth people,
Fishing on a shelvy shore?
Wilt thou leave the homes of Gartan,
Where thou suck’d the milky food
From the mother-breast of Aithne,
Daughter of Lagenian blood?
Wilt thou leave the oaks of Derry,
Where each leaf is dear to thee,
Wandering, in a storm-tost wherry,
O’er the wide, unpastured sea?
Son of Phelim, Beathan loves thee,
Be thou zealous, but be wise!
There be heathens here in Erin;
Preach to them ‘neath kindly skies.”
Then the noble son of Phelim,
With the big tear in his eye,
To the blameless son of Brendan
Firmly thus made swift reply—
“Son of Brendan, I have heard thee,
Heard thee with a bleeding heart;
For I love the oaks of Derry,
And to leave them gives me smart;
But the ban of God is on me,
Not my will commands the way;
Molaise priest of Innishmurry
Hights me go, and I obey.
For their death is heavy on me
Whom I slew in vengeful mood,
At the battle of Culdremhne,
In the hotness of my blood.
For the lord that rules at Tara,
In some brawl that grew from wine,
Slew young Carnan, branch of promise,
And a kinsman of my line;
And the human blood within me
Mounted, and my hand did slay,
For the fault of one offender
Many on that tearful day;
And I soil’d the snow-white vestment
With which Etchen, holy man,
Clonfad’s mitred elder, clad me
When I join’d the priestly clan;
And my soul was rent with anguish,
And my sorrows were increased,
And I went to Innishmurry,
Seeking solace from the priest.
And the saintly Molaise told me—
‘For the blood that thou hast spilt,
God hath shown me one atonement
To make clear thy soul from guilt;
Count the hundreds of the Christians
Whom thy sword slew to thy blame,
Even so many souls of heathens
Must thy word with power reclaim;
Souls of rough and rude sea-rovers,
Used to evil, strange to good,
Picts beyond the ridge of Albyn,
In the Pagan realm of Brude.’
Thou hast heard me, son of Brendan;
I have will’d it; and this know,
Thou with me, or I without thee,
On this holy hest will go!”
Beathan heard, with meek agreement,
For he knew that Colum’s will,
Like a rock against the ocean,
Still was fix’d for good or ill.
“Son of Phelim, I have heard thee;
I and Cobhtach both will go,
Past the wintry ridge of Albyn,
O’er the great sea’s foamy flow;
Far from the green oaks of Deny,
Where the cuckoo sings in May,
From the land of falling waters
Far, and clover’s green display;
Where Columba leads we follow,
Fear with him I may not know,
Where the God thou servest calls thee,
Son of Phelim, I will go.”

II.

“Son of Brendan, I am ready;
Is the boat all staunch and trim?
Light our osier craft and steady,
Like an ocean gull to swim?
I have cast all doubt behind me,
Seal’d with prayer my holy vow,
And the God who heard me answers
With assuring presence now.”
And the son of Brendan answer’d—
“Son of Phelim, thou shalt be
Like God’s angel-guidance to us
As we plough the misty sea.
We are ready, I and Cobhtach,
Diarmid in thy service true,
Rus and Fechno, sons of Rodain,
Scandal, son of Bresail, too;
Ernan, Luguid Mocatheimne,
Echoid, and Tochannu brave,
Grillan and the son of Branduh,
Brush with thee the briny wave.”
Thus spake he: Columba lifted
High his hand to bless the wherry,
And they oar’d with gentle oarage
From the dear-loved oaks of Derry;
Loath to leave each grassy headland,
Shiny beach and pebbly bay,
Thymy slope and woody covert,
Where the cuckoo hymn’d the May;
Loath from some familiar cabin’s
Wreathy smoke to rend their eye,
Where a godly widow harbour’d
Laughing girl or roguish boy.
On they oar’d, and soon behind them
Left thy narrow pool, Loch Foyle,
And the grey sea spread before them
Many a broad unmeasured mile.
Swiftly now on bounding billow
On they run before the gale,
For a strong south-wester blowing
Strain’d the bosom of their sail.
On they dash: the Rhinns of Islay
Soon they reach, and soon they pass;
Cliff and bay, and bluffy foreland,
Flit as in a magic glass.
What is this before them rising
Northward from the foamy spray?
Land, I wis—an island lorded
By the wise Macneill to-day,
Then a brown and barren country,
Cinctured by the ocean grey.
On they scud; and there they landed,
And they mounted on a hill,
Whence the far-viewed son of Brendan
Look’d, and saw green Erin still.
“Say’st thou so, thou son of Brendan?”
Quoth Columba; “then not here
May we rest from tossing billow
With light heart and conscience clear,
Lest our eyes should pine a-hunger
For the land we hold so dear,
And our coward keel returning
Stint the vow that brought us here.”
So they rose and trimmed their wherry,
And their course right on they hold
Northward, where the wind from Greenland
Blows on Albyn clear and cold;
When, behold, a cloud came darkling
From the west, with gusty bore,
And the horrent waves rose booming
Eastward, with ill-omen’d roar;
And the night came down upon them,
And the sea with yeasty sweep
Hiss’d around them, as the wherry
Stagger’d through the fretted deep.
Eastward, eastward, back they hurried,
For to face the flood was vain,
Every rib of their light wherry
Creaking to the tempest’s strain;
Eastward, eastward, till the morning
Glimmer’d through the pitchy storm,
And reveal’d the frowning Scarba,
And huge Jura’s cones enorm.
“Blessed God,” cried now Columba,
“Here, indeed, may danger be
From the mighty whirl and bubble
Of the cauldron of the sea;
Here it was that noble Breacan
Perish’d in the gulfing wave—
Here we, too, shall surely perish,
If not God be quick to save!”
Spake: and with his hand he lifted
High the cross above the brine;
And he cried, “Now, God, I thank Thee
Thou hast sent the wished-for sign!
For, behold, thou son of Brendan,
There upon the topmost wave,
Sent from God, a sign to save us
Float the bones of Breacan brave!
And his soul this self-same moment,
From the girth of purging fire,
Leaps redeem’d, as we are ‘scaping
From the huge sea-cauldron dire.”
Spake: and to the name of Breacan
Droop’d the fretful-crested spray;
And full soon a mild south-easter
Blew the surly storm away.

III.

Little now remains to tell ye,
Gentles, of great Phelim’s son;
How he clave the yielding billow
Till lona’s strand he won.
Back they steer’d, still westward, westward;
Past the land where high Ben More
Nods above the isles that quaintly
Fringe its steep and terraced shore.
On they cut—still westward! westward!
On with favouring wind and tide,
Past the pillar’d crags of Carsaig
Fencing Mull’s sun-fronting side,
Pass the narrow Ross, far-stretching
Where the rough and ruddy rocks
Rudely rise in jumbled hummocks
Of primeval granite blocks;
Till they come to where lona
Rears her front of hoary crags,
Fenced by many a stack and skerry
Full of rifts, and full of jags;
And behind a small black islet
Through an inlet’s narrow space,
Sail’d into a bay white bosom’d,
In the island’s southward face.
Then with eager step they mounted
To the high rock’s beetling brow—
“Canst thou see, thou far-view’d Beathan,
Trace of lovely Erin now?”
“No! thou son of Phelim, only
Mighty Jura’s Paps I see,
These and Isla’s Rhynns, but Erin
Southward lies in mist from me.”
“Thank thee, God !” then cried Columba;
“Here our vows are paid, and here
We may rest from tossing billow,
With light heart and conscience clear.”
Downward then their way they wended
To the pure and pebbly bay,
And, with holy cross uplifted,
Thus did saintly Colum say—
“In the sand we now will bury
This trim craft that brought us here,
Lest we think on oaks of Derry,
And the land we hold so dear;
Then they dug a trench, and sank it
In the sand, to seal their vow,
With keel upwards, as who travels
In the sand may see it now.

— John Stuart Blackie, Lays of the Highlands and Islands (1872).

Foundation of the Monastery of Deer

Folio 3 of the Book of Deer (Leabhar Dhèir) contains a continuation of the Gospel According to St. Matthew and a Scottish Gaelic account of the foundation of the Monastery of Deer by SS. Columba and Drostan.

Colum Cille & Drostán mac Cosgreg a dalta tángator a hÍ mar ro falseg Dia doib gonic’ Abbordoboir, & Bede cruthnec robo mormær Buchan ar a ginn; & ess é ro thidnaig doib in gathraig-sain in saere go bráith ó mormaer & ó thosec. Tángator as a athle-sen in cathraig ele, & do-raten ri Colum Cille sí, iar fa llán do rath Dé. Acus do-rodloeg ar in mormær .i. Bede go-ndas tabrad dó, & ní tharat. Acus ro gab mac dó galar, iar n-ére na glérec, & robo marb act mad bec. Iar sen do-chuid in mormaer d’attac na glérec go ndéndaes ernacde lesin mac go ndísad slánte dó; & do-rat i n-edbairt doib ua Cloic in Tiprat gonice Chloic Pette Mec-Garnait. Do-rónsat i n-ernacde, & tánic slá dó. Iar sen do-rat Collum Cille do Drostán in chadraig-sen, & ro-s benact, & fo-rácaib in mbréther, ge bé tísad ris, ná bad blienec buadacc. Tángator déara Drostán ar scarthain fri Collum Cille. Ro laboir Colum Cille, ‘Bed Déar a anim ó shunn imacc.’

Columba and Drostán son of Coscrach, his disciple, came from Iona, as God guided them, to Aberdour; and Bede the Pict was mormaer of Buchan on their arrival; and it is he who bestowed on them that monastery, in freedom till Doomsday from mormaer and toísech. They came after that to the other monastery, and it pleased Columba, for it was full of the grace of God. And he begged the mormaer, that is, Bede, that he should give it to them, and he did not. And a son of his took a sickness, after the clerics had been refused, and was all but dead. Thereupon the mormaer went to beseech the clerics that they should make a prayer on behalf of the boy, that health might come to him; and he gave to them land as a grant from Cloch in Tiprat as far as Cloch Peitte Meic-Garnait. They made the prayer, and health came to him. Thereupon Columba gave Drostán that monastery, and blessed it, and left the curse that whoever should go against it should not be full of years or of success. Drostán’s tears [déra] came as he was parting from Columba. Columba said, ‘Let Deer be its name from this on.’

Book of Deer.

A Door is Opened

Watercolour copy of a (now destroyed) fresco painting of St. Ninian in St. Congan's Church, Turriff, Aberdeenshire; reproduced in The Book Of Deer (ed. by John Stuart for the Spalding Club), Edinburgh, 1869.
Watercolour copy of a (now destroyed) fresco painting of St. Ninian in St. Congan’s Church, Turriff, Aberdeenshire; reproduced in The Book Of Deer (ed. by John Stuart for the Spalding Club), Edinburgh, 1869.

Meanwhile the most blessed man, grieved that the devil, who had been driven out of the region beside the ocean, had found for himself a dwelling place in a corner of the island in the hearts of the Picts, girded himself as a strong wrestler to overthrow his kingdom, and put on, moreover, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the breast-plate of charity, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Equipped with such arms and surrounded by a company of his holy brethren, as by a heavenly host, he invaded the empire of the strong man armed, to rescue from his power innumerable vessels of captivity. Wherefore going to the Southern Picts,among whom the error of the Gentiles still prevailed, compelling them to venerate and worship idols deaf and dumb, he preached the truth of the Gospel and the purity of the Christian Faith, the Lord working with him and confirming his word with signs following. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the oppressed of the devil are delivered. A door is opened for the Word of God; by the grace of the Holy Spirit faith is received, error abandoned, temples cast down, and churches built. To the font of the saving laver, rich and poor, young men and maidens, old and young, and mothers with their children hasten, and renouncing Satan with all his works and pomps, are joined to the body of the believers by faith, confession, and the sacraments. They give thanks to the most merciful God, that in the isles which are afar off he had revealed His name, sending to them a preacher of the truth, a lamp of salvation, and calling them His people which were not His people, and them beloved which were not beloved, and them as having obtained mercy which had not obtained mercy. Then the holy bishop began to ordain presbyters, to consecrate bishops, to distribute the other dignities of the ecclesiastical orders, and to divide the whole land into parishes with fixed bounds. Finally, having confirmed, in faith and good works, his children whom he had begotten in Christ, and having set in order all things which seemed to be necessary to the honour of God and for the salvation of souls, he bade farewell to the brethren, and returned to his own church, where in great tranquillity of soul, he spent a life perfect in all sanctity and glorious in miracles.

Vita Sancti Niniani, vi.

An Lia Fàil at Dunstaffnage

Dunstaffnage Castle, 1836, engraving by William Miller after J. M. W. Turner.
Dunstaffnage Castle, 1836, engraving by William Miller after J. M. W. Turner.

Among the antiquities of Argyleshire, the castle of Dunstaffnage ought undoubtedly to take the lead. It stands on Loch Etive, on a promontory jutting into the sea. The castle is said to have been founded by Errin, or Erinus, a Pictish monarch — contemporary with Cæsar — who called it after himself, Eronium. Whether this account be true or not, it certainly is a place of great antiquity, and one of the first seats of the Scottish princes. In this castle was long preserved the famous stone chair or seat — the Palladium of Scotland — said to have been brought out of Spain, where it was used as a seat of justice by Gatholus, who was coeval with Moses. It continued here and was used as the coronation chair of Kenneth II., who removed it to Scone. (The stone is said to have been Jacob’s pillow, and was left behind by the Jews when they fled out of Egypt. A remote ancestor of the Scottish kings married a daughter of one of the Pharaohs, and got it as her, or part of her, dower. They brought it to Carthage, thence to Spain, thence to Ireland, and then it came to Dunstaffnage.)

— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).

To Confound the Druids

St. Columba, Bishop's House, Iona.
St. Columba, Bishop’s House, Iona.

By virtue of his prayer, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, he healed several persons suffering under various diseases; and he alone, by the assistance of God, expelled from this our island, which now has the primacy, innumerable hosts of malignant spirits, whom he saw with his bodily eyes assailing himself, and beginning to bring deadly distempers on his monastic brotherhood. Partly by mortification, and partly by a bold resistance, he subdued, with the help of Christ, the furious rage of wild beasts. The surging waves, also, at times rolling mountains high in a great tempest, became quickly at his prayer quiet and smooth, and his ship, in which he then happened to be, reached the desired haven in a perfect calm.

When returning from the country of the Picts, where he had been for some days, he hoisted his sail when the breeze was against him to confound the Druids, and made as rapid a voyage as if the wind had been favourable. On other occasions, also, contrary winds were at his prayers changed into fair. In that same country, he took a white stone from the river, and blessed it for the working of certain cures, and that stone, contrary to nature, floated like an apple when placed in water. This divine miracle was wrought in the presence of King Brude and his household. In the same country, also, he performed a still greater miracle, by raising to life the dead child of an humble believer, and restoring him in life and vigour to his father and mother. At another time, while the blessed man was yet a young deacon in Hibernia, residing with the holy bishop Findbarr, the wine required for the Sacred Mysteries failed, and he changed by his prayer pure water into true wine. An immense blaze of heavenly light was on many and wholly distinct occasions seen by some of the brethren to surround him in the light of day, as well as in the darkness of the night. He was also favoured with the sweet and most delightful society of bright hosts of the holy angels. He often saw, by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, the souls of some just men carried by angels to the highest heavens. And the reprobates too he very frequently beheld carried to hell by demons. He very often foretold the future deserts, sometimes joyful, and sometimes sad, of many persons while they were still living in mortal flesh. In the dreadful crash of wars he obtained from God, by the virtue of prayer, that some kings should be conquered, and others come off victorious. And such a grace as this he enjoyed, not only while alive in this world, but even after his departure from the flesh, as God, from whom all the saints derive their honour, has made him still a victorious and most valiant champion in battle.

— St. Adomnán’s Vita Columbæ, Book I, Chapter i.

Dunadd in the Annals of Ulster

View of Dunadd, an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.
View of Dunadd, an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.

The siege of Dún At and the siege of Dún Duirn.

– Annals of Ulster, U683.

Aengus son of Fergus, king of the Picts, laid waste the territory of Dál Riata and seized Dún At and burned Creic and bound in chains two sons of Selbach, i.e. Donngal and Feradach; and shortly afterwards Bruide son of Aengus son of Fergus died.

– Annals of Ulster, U736.

Great and Singular Merits

The Cathach of St. Columba.
The Cathach of St. Columba.

Of a volume of a book in the Saint’s handwriting which could not be destroyed by water.

I CANNOT think of leaving unnoticed another miracle which once took place by means of the opposite element. For many years after the holy man had departed to the Lord, a certain youth fell from his horse into the river which in Scotic is called Boend (the Boyne), and, being drowned, was for twenty days under the water. When he fell he had a number of books packed up in a leathern satchel under his arm; and so, when he was found after the above-mentioned number of days, he still had the satchel of books pressed between his arm and side. When the body was brought out to the dry ground, and the satchel opened, it was found to contain, among the volumes of other books, which were not only injured, but even rotten, a volume written by the sacred fingers of St. Columba; and it was as dry and wholly uninjured as if it had been enclosed in a desk.

Of another Miracle in similar circumstances.

AT another time a book of hymns for the office of every day in the week, and in the handwriting of St. Columba, having slips, with the leathern satchel which contained it, from the shoulder of a boy who fell from a bridge, was immersed in a certain river in the province of the Lagenians (Leinster). This very book lay in the water from the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord till the end of the Paschal season, and was afterwards found on the bank of the river by some women who were walking there: it was brought by them in the same satchel, which was not only soaked, but even rotten, to a certain priest named Iogenan, a Pict by race, to whom it formerly belonged. On opening the satchel himself, Iogenan found his book uninjured, and as clean and dry as if it had been as long a time in his desk, and had never fallen into the water. And we have ascertained, as undoubted truth, from those who were well informed in the matter, that the like things happened in several places with regard to books written by the hands of St. Columba namely, that the books could suffer no injury from being immersed in water. But the account we have given of the above-mentioned book of Iogenan we have received from certain truthful excellent, and honourable men, who saw the book itself, perfectly white and beautiful, after a submersion of so many days, as we have stated.

These two miracles, though wrought in matters of small moment, and shown in opposite elements namely, fire and water, redound to the honour of the blessed man, and prove his great and singular merits before the Lord.

Vita Columbæ, Book II, Chapter VIII.

Annales Cambriae

Page view from the Harleian manuscript of the Annals of Wales; British Library.
Page view from the Harleian manuscript of the Annals of Wales; British Library.
447 ‡ Days as dark as night.‡
453 Easter altered on the Lord’s Day by Pope Leo, Bishop of Rome.
454 St. Brigid is born.
457 St. Patrick goes to the Lord.
458 St. David is born in the thirtieth year after Patrick left Menevia.
468 The death of Bishop Benignus.
501 Bishop Ebur rests in Christ, he was 350 years old.
516 The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors.
521 St. Columba is born. The death of St. Brigid.
537 The battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell: and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.
544 The sleep [death] of Ciaran.
547 The great death [plague] in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. ‡Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’. Then was the yellow plague.‡
558 The death of Gabrán, son of Dungart.
562 Columba went to Britain.
565 ‡The voyage of Gildas to Ireland.‡
569 ‡The ‘Synod of Victory’ was held between the Britons.‡
570 Gildas ‡wisest of Britons‡ died.
573 The battle of Arfderydd ‡between the sons of Eliffer and Gwenddolau son of Ceidio; in which battle Gwenddolau fell; Merlin went mad.‡
574 The sleep [death] of Brendan of Birr.
580 Gwrgi and Peredur ‡sons of Elifert‡ died.
584 Battle against the Isle of Man and the burial of Daniel of the Bangors.
589 The conversion of Constantine [king of Britain] to the Lord.
594 ‡Aethelbert reigned in England.‡
595 The death of Columba.
The death of king Dunod ‡son of Pabo.‡
Augustine and Mellitus converted the English to Christ.
601 The synod of Urbs Legionis [Chester].
Gregory died in Christ and also bishop David of Moni Iudeorum.
606 The burial of bishop Cynog.
607 The death of Aidan son of Gabrán
612 The death of Kentigern and bishop Dyfrig.
613 The battle of Caer Legion [Chester]. And there died Selyf son of Cynan. And Iago son of Beli slept [died].
616 Ceredig died.
617 Edwin begins his reign.
624 The sun is covered [eclipsed].
626 Edwin is baptized, and Rhun son of Urien baptized him.
627 Belin dies.
629 The beseiging of king Cadwallon in the island of Glannauc.
630 Gwyddgar comes and does not return. On the Kalends of January the battle of Meigen; and there Edwin was killed with his two sons; but Cadwallon was the victor.
631 The battle of Cantscaul in which Cadwallon fell.
632 The slaughter of the [river] Severn and the death of Idris.
644 The battle of Cogfry in which Oswald king of the Northmen and Eawa king of the Mercians fell.
645 The hammering of the region of Dyfed, when the monastery of David was burnt.
649 ‡Slaughter in Gwent.‡
650 The rising of a star.
656 The slaughter of Campus Gaius.
657 Penda killed.
658 Oswy came and took plunder.
661 Cummine the tall died.
662 Brocmail ‡the tusked ‡ dies.
665 The first celebration of Easter among the Saxons. The second battle of Badon. Morgan dies.
669 Oswy, king of the Saxons, dies.
676 A star of marvelous brightness was seen shining throughout the whole world.
682 A great plague in Britain, in which Cadwaladr son of Cadwallon dies.
683 A plague ‡was‡ in Ireland.
684 A great earthquake in the Isle of Man.
689 The rain turned to blood in Britain, and ‡in Ireland‡ milk and butter turned to blood.
704 Aldfrith king of the Saxons died. The sleep of Adomnán.
714 Night was as bright as day. Pepin the elder [actually Pepin II, of Heristal], king of the Franks, died in Christ.
717 Osred king of the Saxons dies.
718 The consecration of the church of the archangel Michael ‡on mount Gargano.‡
721 A hot summer.
722 Beli son of Elffin dies. And the battle of Hehil among the Cornish, the battle of Garth Maelog, the battle of Pencon among the south Britons, and the Britons were the victors in those three battles.
728 The battle of mount Carno.
735 Bede the priest sleeps.
736 Oengus king of the Picts died.
750 Battle between the Picts and the Briton, that is the battle of Mocetauc. And their king Talorgan is killed by the Britions.
754 Rhodri king of the Britons dies.
757 Ethelbalk king of the Saxons dies.
760 A battle between the Britons and the Saxons, that is the battle of Hereford and Dyfnwal son of Tewdwr dies.
768 Easter is changed among the Britons ‡on the Lord’s day ‡, Elfoddw, servant of God, emending it.
775 Ffernfael son of Ithael dies.
776 Cinaed king of the Picts dies.
777 Abbot Cuthbert dies.
778 The devastation of the South Britons by Offa.
784 The devastation of Britain by Offa in the summer.
796 ‡Devastation by Rheinwg son of Offa ‡ The first coming of the gentiles [Norsemen] among the southern Irish.
797 Offa king of the Mercians and Maredudd king of the Demetians die, and the battle of Rhuddlan.
798 Caradog king of Gwynedd is killed by the Saxons.
807 Arthen king of Ceredigion dies. ‡Solar eclipse‡
808 Rhain king of the Demetians and Cadell ‡king‡ of Powys die.
809 Elfoddw archbishop in the Gwynedd region went to the Lord.
810 ‡The moon covered ‡. Mynyw burnt. ‡Death of cattle in Britain.‡
811 Owain son of Maredudd dies.
812 The fortress of Degannwy is struck by lightning and burnt.
813 Battle between Hywel ‡and Cynan. Hywel‡ was the victor.
814 There was great thunder and it caused many fires. Tryffin son of Rhain died. And Gruffydd son of Cyngen is killed by treachery by his brother Elisedd after an interval of two months. Hywel triumphed over the island of Mona and he drove Cynan from there with a great loss of his own army.
816 Hywel was again expelled from Mona. Cynan the king dies. ‡Saxons invaded the mountains of Eryri and the kingdom of Rhufoniog‡.
817 The battle of Llan-faes.
818 ‡Cenwulf devastated the Dyfed region.‡
822 The fortress of Degannwy is destroyed by the Saxons and they took the kingdom of Powys into their own control.
825 Hywel dies.
831 ‡Lunar eclipse.‡ Laudent died and Sadyrnfyw Hael of Mynyw died.
840 Nobis the bishop ruled Mynyw.
842 Idwallon dies.
844 Merfyn dies. The battle of Cetill.
848 The battle of Ffinnant. Ithael king of Gwent was killed by the men of Brycheiniog.
849 Meurig was killed by Saxons.
850 Cynin is killed by the gentiles.
853 Mona laid waste by black gentiles.
856 Kenneth king of the Picts died. And Jonathan prince of Abergele dies.
860 Catgueithen was expelled.
864 Duda laid Glywysing waste.
865 Cian of Nanhyfer died.
866 The city of York was laid waste, that is the battle with the black gentiles.
869 The battle of Bryn Onnen.
870 The fortress of Alt Clud was broken by the gentiles.
871 Gwgon king of Ceredigion was drowned.
873 Nobis ‡the bishop‡ and Meurig die. The battle of Bannguolou.
874 ‡Llunferth the bishop consecrated.‡
875 Dungarth king of Cernyw ‡that is of the Cornish‡ was drowned.
876 The battle of Sunday in Mona.
877 Rhodri and his son Gwriad is killed by the Saxons.
878 Aed son of Neill dies.
880 The battle of Conwy. Vengeance for Rhodri at God’s hand. ‡The battle of Cynan.‡
882 Catgueithen died.
885 Hywel died in Rome.
887 Cerball died.
889 Suibne the wisest of the Irish died.
892 Hyfaidd dies.
894 Anarawd came with the Angles and laid waste Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi.
895 The Northmen came and laid waste Lloegr and Bycheiniog and Gwent and Gwynllywiog.
896 ‡Bread failed in Ireland. Vermin like moles with two teeth fell from the air and ate everything up; they were driven out by fasting and prayer.‡
898 ‡Athelstan king of the Saxons died.‡
900 Alfred king of the Gewissi dies.
902 Igmund came to Mona and took Maes Osfeilion.
903 ‡Merfyn son of Rhodri died and ‡ Llywarch son of Hyfaidd dies.
904 Rhodri ‡sone of Hyfaidd ‡ was beheaded in Arwystli.
906 The battle of Dinmeir and Mynyw was broken.
907 ‡Bishop ‡ Gorchywyl dies ‡ and king Cormac‡.
908 ‡Bishop ‡ Asser died.
909 King Cadell son of Rhodri dies.
913 Ohter comes ‡to Britain‡.
915 Anarawd king ‡of the Britons‡ dies.
917 Queen Aethelflaed died.
919 King Clydog was killed.
921 The battle of Dinas Newydd.
928 Hywel journeyed to Rome. ‡Helen died.‡
935 ‡Gruffydd son of Owain died.‡
938 The battle of Brune.
939 Hyfaidd son of Clydog, and Meurig, died.
941 Aethelstan ‡king of the Saxons‡ died.
942 King Afloeg dies.
943 Cadell son of Arthfael was poisoned. And Idwal ‡son of Rhodri ‡ and his son Elisedd are killed by the Saxons.
944 Llunferth bishop in Mynyw died.
945 ‡Bishop Morlais died.‡
946 Cyngen son of Elisedd was poisoned. And Eneuris bishop in Mynyw died. And strathclyde was laid wasted by the Saxons.
947 Edmund king of the Saxons was killed.
950 Hywel king of the Britons ‡called the Good‡ died.
951 And Cadwgan son of Owain is killed by the Saxons. And the battle of Carno ‡between the sons of Hywel and the sons of Idwal‡.
952 ‡Iago and Idwal the sons of Idwal laid Dyfed waste.‡
954 Rhodri son of Hywel dies.

— Ingram, James, translator. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. London: Everyman Press, 1912.

The primary text of the above translation is taken from the Harleian manuscript (a.k.a. MS. A — London, British Library, MS. Harleian 3859, folios 190r-193r.), the earliest copy of the Annales Cambriae which has survived. The text enclosed within the “‡” symbols are entries which are not found in the Harleian manuscript, but which appear in a later version.

The Sustenance of Life and the Example

Ancient Seal of City of Glasgow, Depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.
Ancient seal of City of Glasgow, depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.

He established the seat of his cathedral in the town called Glesgu, which is translated “Beloved Family,” and is now called Glasgow. And there he gathered together many servants of God, a family beloved and well known to God, who lived in abstinence following the pattern of the primitive church under the Apostles, without possessions and in holy discipline and divine service.

And the diocese of that episcopate extended to the borders of the Cambrian kingdom, and that kingdom stretched continuously from sea to sea, just like the earthen wall built by the Emperor Severus. After the advice and counsel of the Roman legions, in order to prevent the Picts from rushing into the country, a wall was constructed in this same place that was eight feet wide and twelve feet tall, and it reached up to the river Forth, and divides Scotland from England as a boundary line. And this Cambrian region over which Kentigern now was placed with episcopal honor, had received the Christian faith (as had the whole of Britain) during the time of Pope Eleutherius, when King Lucius ruled. But when the pagans had attacked the island during various times, and having dominion over it, the islanders had thrown away the faith they had received by falling into apostasy. Many also were not yet washed in the health-giving water of baptism, and many were stained by the contagion of manifold heresies. Many, only Christian in name, were wrapped up in the hog pool of multiple vices. Very many had been taught by ministers inexperiened in and ignorant of the law of God. And for these reasons, all the inhabitants of the province had a need for the counsel of a good shepherd, and the cure of a good ruler. Therefore God, the Disposer and Dispenser of all good things, provided, preferred, and proposed Saint Kentigern as a healing remedy, as the sustenance of life and the example, for all the diseases of all the people.

— Jocelin of Furness, Life of St. Kentigern, Chapter XI.

Dunadd

Dunadd, (Scottish Gaelic Dún Add, 'fort on the [River] Add'), is an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.
Dunadd, (Scottish Gaelic Dún Add, ‘fort on the [River] Add’), is an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.
Dunadd is mentioned twice in early sources. In 683 the Annals of Ulster record: 'The siege of Dún At and the siege of Dún Duirn' without further comment on the outcome or participants. In the same chronicle the entry for 736 states: 'Aengus son of Fergus, king of the Picts, laid waste the territory of Dál Riata and seized Dún At and burned Creic and bound in chains two sons of Selbach, i.e. Donngal and Feradach.'
Dunadd is mentioned twice in early sources. In 683 the Annals of Ulster record: ‘The siege of Dún At and the siege of Dún Duirn’ without further comment on the outcome or participants. In the same chronicle the entry for 736 states: ‘Aengus son of Fergus, king of the Picts, laid waste the territory of Dál Riata and seized Dún At and burned Creic and bound in chains two sons of Selbach, i.e. Donngal and Feradach.’

Originally occupied in the Iron Age, the site later became a seat of the kings of Dál Riata. It is known for its stone carvings below the upper enclosure, including the imprint of a foot and a basin thought to have formed part of Dál Riata’s coronation ritual. On the same flat outcrop of rock is an incised boar in Pictish style, and an inscription in the ogham script. The inscription is read as referring to a Finn Manach and is dated to the late VIII century or afterwards.

The renowned incised stone footprint on Dunadd.
The renowned incised stone footprint on Dunadd.
The ceremonial basin at Dunadd. Along with the footprint, some historians have suggested that the two might have played a role in the coronation summary of the Scots kings of Dál Riata.
The ceremonial basin at Dunadd. Along with the stone footprint, some historians have suggested that the two might have played a role in the coronation ceremony of the Scots kings of Dál Riata.

Pictish Battle Scene on Aberlemno II

Detail of reverse side of Aberlemno Stone II; Class II Pictish Stone; battle scene.