Archive for the ‘Dalrigh’ Category

We started the story…

  • …of Inchaffray Abbey, and Bruce’s endowment to it in PART ONE, I talked about Bruce’s decision to give an endowment for a chapel to St. Fillan and a brief history of the early, awful months of 1306.
  • In PART TWO, I got into the detail of the Battle of Dalrigh, which, according to one source, is likely the 1306 event for which Bruce credited Fillan’s help.  I finished with:

Now comes the fun (or frustrating) part of research.  The more answers we find, the more questions arise, and all too often, those answers conflict with one another.  We’ll get into some of those tomorrow, along with more on Inchaffray itself and St. Fillan.

[Yes, I just used the quote feature to quote myself.  Now that I've been quoted, does that mean I'm famous?]The frustrations are that some things we just will likely never know for sure.  And that sources sometimes conflict.  The fun…is the same thing.  Mysteries and questions abound!In the case of Bruce’s endowment for the chapel to St. Fillan, his motivation is given in one paper (The Kingship of Robert I, 1306-29) as being ‘in thanks for the intercession of that saint during Bruce’s flight into exile through Perthshire in 1306.’  His source: S. Taylor’s ‘The Cult of St Fillan in Scotland’, in T.R. Liszka and L.E.M. Walker eds., The North Sea World in the Middle Ages: Studies in the Cultural History of North-Western Europe (Dublin 2001).  Not having access to that source, I don’t know what their basis is for linking the endowment to Dalrigh.

Wikipedia, without citing a source for his motivation in particular, says that the gift was in thanks for the miracle at Bannockburn, while Temple of Mysteries, the website of The Stone of Destiny: In Search of the Truth, says only that Bruce’s building of the ‘priory’ (it is called a priory, rather than a chapel here) so shortly after Bannockburn suggests repaying a favor.  He does not speak to which favor, but I would hazard he means the miracle at Bannockburn.

The remains of St. Fillan’s Priory

Regarding the use of the word priory, one site says Bruce ‘endowed a chapel’ which was ‘attached to’ the Inchaffray Abbey.  Temple of Mysteries says he built a priory.  This may not be different things, although the choice of words might infer different things on first reading.  We do know that the original Inchaffray Priory was created around 1200 by Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn and his first (known) wife.  It became an abbey about 1220.

And here we come to another Fun/Frustrating aspect of research: the rabbit holes!  What is the difference between an abbey and a priory?  In short, so as not to digress, a priory is generally considered a ‘lower level’ or subordinate to an abbey.  If you’d like to go down that rabbit hole yourself, you can read a bit more here.

My guess is that Bruce’s endowment for the chapel to St. Fillan does not need to be assigned as thanks for either his escape at Dalrigh or his miraculous victory at Bannockburn.  It may have been a more general thank you for both of these and possibly for more incidents that have not survived in recorded history.  [We sometimes seem to forget that just because our earliest sources mentioning Bruce praying to Fillan date from a hundred years after the fact, (as mentioned in Temple Mysteries) that does not mean that's the first written mention of it.  It may have been documented in multiple sources that did not survive.]

So my guess is that it was in thanks for both and possibly for more.

Bruce had long had a devotion to St. Fillan.  What becomes the interesting question to me is where this devotion started.  It’s not a question I have deeply researched, but it is mentioned in Temple Mysteries that St. Fillan was said to have suffered from leprosy.  Many sites claim Bruce did, too.  So the suggestion put forth is that the leprosy connection (not to be confused with the Rainbow Connection–Muppet reference for you young ‘uns.) is what led to Bruce’s affinity for Fillan.

I tend to side with those who say Bruce had a skin condition that was often erroneously called leprosy at some historical point or perhaps got garbled in translation somewhere along the line–but was not the Biblical leprosy we think of.  But a man with leprosy would likely not be living among others, as Bruce clearly did.  I suspect even for a king, such a thing would not be allowed, and if he had, he did, and it was–wouldn’t we hear about more noblemen around him having leprosy, too?

While I have not researched it in particular, I have also not, in my years of familiarity with St. Fillan, ever heard that he had leprosy.

I would offer that his devotion to Fillan may have begun with the blessing from the abbot at the Culdee Church and the Dalrigh escape.  Or perhaps it started earlier, which is why he credited Fillan with that escape.  Fillan was one of the great Celtic saints, and Bruce certainly had Celtic roots through his mother.

In the end, what we can safely say is that in the first three months of 1318, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, endowed something–priory or chapel–dedicated to St. Fillan, in connection with Inchaffray Abbey, in thanks for the Saint’s help at some time or times plural.


As a writer, this gives enough information to be historically accurate and enough room to work it into the story.

More on St. Fillan: Temple of Mysteries  and A Family of Saints by Dmitry Lapa (the picture above is his–it was the only picture I could find anywhere of the ruins; lots of great pictures on his page.)

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The medieval mind saw things rather differently than many people today.  It was a world, I believe, where the physical and the supernatural, or spiritual, lived in…dare I say…communion?  No pun intended.  (But never look a gift pun in the mouth!)Other blog posts here have discussed saints and miracles.  And more will in the future.  My current research is on the early months of 1318.  Where might Niall be?  The last we saw him in Westering Home, he’d been sent on a distasteful mission by the Bruce to retrieve papers from the unfortunate Adam Newton.  We will find out in the opening pages of The Battle is O’er that the Bruce sends Niall, Hugh, Lachlan, and Owen home to Glenmirril, lest they be seen and remembered as the culprits.But we can be sure Niall will not just sit home until The Big Event at the end of The Battle is O’er.  So what is he doing?

He can’t go to Rome to see the Pope because the Pope is now in Avignon.  Is there a reason he would go to see the Pope at all?  Quite possibly.  The Popes had definitively taken England’s part, and as Pope John XXII wanted the war between England and Scotland cleared up so he could get going with a crusade, there were frequent messages back and forth from Avignon to both Scotland and England.  Scotland would certainly have sent messages in return.

Inchaffray Priory, Maurice, Abbot of Inchaffray, Robert the Bruce

In researching the question, I came across one detail that references St. Fillan’s saintly help.  In the first three months of 1318, Bruce was likely busy with a lot of administrative work, including resettling of lands and offices, making appointments, and spending a fair amount of time in Arbroath.  In these three months, he endowed a chapel to St. Fillan, attached to Inchaffray Priory, in thanks for help he attributed to the saint during his flight through Perthshire in 1306.

St. Fillan is fairly well known for the miracle the night before battle at Bannockburn.  Maurice, the abbot of Inchaffray Priory plays a part in that act.  But what happened in Perthshire in 1306?  (And does it stay there?  No, obviously not since we’re about to read it here!)

My guess is that the ‘help’ referred to in 1306 concerns the Battle of Dalrigh.  Dal righ means Field of the King, and comes from the battle fought there by King Robert in the summer of 1306.  It is technically accurate to say Robert the Bruce was king at that time.  However, it was in name only.  Sort of like–because he said so.

The weeks leading up to his coronation were just not the kind of weeks any of us would want.  First, there was his apparent betrayal by John Comyn to Edward and a hasty flight to escape capture.  Then he killed John Comyn at the altar at Greyfriars on February 10–I believe in moment of high tempers rather than pre-planned, but it meant a hasty flight to Scone and a shotgun coronation, so to speak, before the Pope could find out and excommunicate him, because an ex-communicated man cannot be anointed king.

There were few at his coronation, and Elizabeth, his wife, is reported to have said, “Alas, we are but king and queen of the May.”  Or, according to other sources: ’It seems to me we are but a summer king and queen whom children crown in their sport.’

Due to length…let us leave off there and continue with PART TWO tomorrow!  But we are getting to Inchaffray Priory and St. Fillan in PART THREE…I promise!  [And in the meantime, I'm still not sure what Niall is doing in these three months!]

 

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