The Pictish Nation: 24 – Chapter 8 (Concluded)

S. Llolan, another Briton who laboured in the Forth area, is represented by the Scotic Churchmen of the fourteenth century as ‘a nephew’ of the unhistorical Servanus. He certainly took up the work of the historical Servanus or Serf, and taught and died at Kincardine-on-Forth. The true story of his life had been almost completely forgotten, and the fabulists invented a biography for him. A hand in the   Breviary of Aberdeen attaches such absurd fables to his name that even a Bollandist editor was shocked, and wished them erased from the Breviary. The Scotic annalists dated him, after their manner, by the reign of one of their own princes, ‘ Duncan, filius Conaill king of Dalriada, who was slain by Aedhan A.D. d. 576. Aedhan had usurped the Dalriad throne under the patronage of S. Columba, and disposed of his rival, Duncan, at the battle of ‘Telocho’ in Cantyre. Duncan (Donnchadh) was grandson of Comghall,fourth King of Dalriada, and tried to maintain himself on the throne in face of Aedhan : but unsuccessfully. Challoner had some information which indicated that S. Llolan was one of the bishops who came from Candida Casa.One edition has ‘ Whitern,’ another ‘Whithorn.’ It is stated that S.Llolan had a Church-foundation near Broughton, Tweed-dale. The lands of his muinntir called’ Croft Llolan’ were at Kincardine on-Forth, where his bachul and bell were preserved. The old Earls of Perth were the custodians. The bell was still in existence in A.D. 1675.

S. Brioc, a Briton, falls into this group of Britons, because he laboured among the Britons and Picts in the early sixth century, before the Celtic population of the south-west of what is now Scotland had been penetrated by Anglian raiders and settlers. His known Church-foundations were at Dunrod, Kirkcudbright; Rothesay; and “Innis Brayoc,’ Montrose. He ought not to be confused withthatotherBriton.S.Brioc of Brieux in France. When the Gaidheals or Scots became dominant in the Church of Pictland their pronunciation and spelling of his name caused some of his foundations to be confused in later years with dedications to S. Brigid.  In the Roman Catholic period his foundation at Dunrod was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Two other missionaries in Pictland, whose names are still conspicuous in the Church, fall to be noted here, although it is now impossible to give exact dates for them. One is ‘ Mochrieha,’ whose work lay along the rivers Don and Dee in Aberdeenshire; the other is the saint whose name is contained in the thirteenth-century spelling ‘ Lesmahago,’that is, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire.

S. ‘ Mochrieha,’ to take his name as preserved by the Celts of Deeside, founded one Church, among others, opposite Crook o’ Don, near what afterwards became the city of Aberdeen ; and the site of this Church became in later centuries the site of the Cathedral of Aberdeen. S. Mochrieha’s Cross — a conical stone with a primitive incised Greek cross similar to an example taken from S. Ninian’s Cave at Glasserton — stands on the top of a tumulus among the hut circles and cairns of an ancient Pictish settlement, about two miles north-west of Aboyne. Here also is S. Mochrieha’s Well ; and, before it was broken up and removed, stood the ‘ Cathair Mochrieha. ‘ The name of this ancient Pictish settlement has been completely forgotten. It is overgrown with thick wood. The high ground behind is ‘ Baragowan,’and the wood ‘Balnagowan Wood.’ If there is any grain of historic truth in the folk-tale f of the miraculous bag of seed which S. Mochrieha received from S. Ternan of Banchory, it probably lies in the indication of a working fellowship between the two saints. Every authentic detail relating to S. Mochrieha was garbled by the conformed Gaidheals or Scots of the early Roman Catholic period, probably to secure precedence for Aberdeen over the ancient centre of the Pictish Church at Mortlach.

Just as S. Drostan of Deer, a Briton, who lived before S.Columba, was transformed into adisciple of S. Columba; so, also, S. Mochrieha was represented by the Gaidheals as one of S. Columba’s followers; and their legends proceed to add that he led a mission into Pictland, The scribe who invented that legend of a mission of Gaidheals was probably not aware that even S. Columba was prevented by the language difficulty from undertaking missions into Pictland; that when he visited the
Pictish sovereign his interpreter was the greatest Pictish ecclesiastic of the period; that when heministered to a Pict in the Dalriad area, he required the assistance of an interpreter; that the political relations between the Gaidheals and Picts in S. Columba’s time precluded friendly intercourseand religious missions; and, finally, that Pictland, including the stretch of the Dee, had been more thoroughly christianized than S. Columba’s own Dalriada, in his own time, by S. Ninian and his successor S. Ternan, who had established his Bangor on the Dee with its Church, its manuscript of the Gospels, and its school, at a time when S. Caranoc, S. Ninian’s other pupil, was striving in Columba’s native Donegal to win from paganism the very tribes of the Nialls from whom S. Columba in another and later century was born.

S. Columba’s disciples are known, and S. Mochrieha is not among them, not even when we look for him under the name ‘ Machar,’ which the Latin Churchmen from the Lowlands gave him when they mistook the name of his Church-site on the ‘Machair of Don for the saint’s personal name, and latinized it as ‘Macharius’ and ‘ Mauritius’ The late Dr. Reeves, who in this matter has even misled many who were in a position to know better, never entered on a more hopeless quest than when he set out to identify the saint of Aberdeen in the preserved list of S. Columba’s disciples. His decision lighted on Tochannu Mac-U-Fircetea, whose surname he broke up, to suit his predilection, into the amazing form ‘ Mocufircetea’; and he identified ‘ Machar’ with Mocufir.’ Apart from the absurdity of this name, if the identification had held, it would have resulted in this saint being commemorated by a formal surname instead of by the Christian name, which was the constant practice of the Picts; although, in the case of S. Kentigern,the people substituted the pet name for the stately ‘Kentigern’ which had more befitted the civil dignity which he had rejected. The actual result of the hypothesis of Dr. Reeves has been that certain writers now make confusion worse confounded by referring to S. ‘Machar’ of Aberdeen as ‘Tochannu’ or ‘ Dockannu,’ a name which belonged to a man of alien race in an alien Church.

Lesmahagow marks the site of a Muinntir which was governed by an Ab. The community dates back to atime when this part of Lanarkshire was still Brito-Pictish, that is, before the northward advance of the Angles. The site-name suggests the foundation of an Irish Pict as in theinstance of Lismore. The in the second section of the place-name, which is also the name of thefounder of the Lis is Britonnic, and renders the saint difficult of identification. In A.D. i 144 the Roman Churchmen glossed the saint’s name as ‘Machutus,’ presumably S. Brendan’s disciple; but he certainly was not this S. Machute. Neither was he S. Maclou or Malo with whom he has also been identified. Extraordinary as it may seem, to anyone but a Celt, the saint’s name was probably Aedhoc which with the honorific mo becomes Moaedhoc; giving the phonetics, with.the euphonic h, Mohaego ,which agrees with the locally accented pronunciation, and the forms ‘ Lesmahago’ (c. 1130) and ‘Lismago’ (1298). The modern equivalent of the Celtic Aed  is Hugh, and it is significant that at farms in the uplands of Lanarkshire, and certain districts of Ayrshire, the diminutive of Hugh still takes the form ‘ Hugoc’ Where the saint of Lesmahagow came from is nowhere indicated. Like many other British and Pictish missionaries of his period, whose names only are left, he remains to later generations,like Melchizedec, ‘without father, without mother, without genealogy.’

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