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THE PICTISH PERIOD.
'The awful faces of other times are silent.'
When the Romans withdrew to fight the battles of the declining Empire at home, the inhabitants of Strathclyde, who were Roman citizens, entitled to Roman privileges, had to defend themselves against the inroads of their uncivilized country-people, the Di-Caledones or northern Picts on the one side, and the Vecturiones or southern Picts on the other. With the Roman abdication, the Pictish Period, which lasts till the union of the Picts and Scots, begins. Of that half-savage kingdom we are told that the chief towns were Abernethy and Forteviot, and that on that stupendous rock where now stands Edinburgh Castle, there was a fortress called Castrum Puellarum, within whose secure but dreary and storm-assailed walls, the daughters of the Pictish monarchs spent their girlhood; but of the careers of the chiefs of the sixteen clans, or of the forty-six kings with uncouth names, beginning with Drust and ending with Bred, or of the real nature of the duties performed by the Maormors, Ogtierns, Herenachs, and other 'native functionaries,' we know little or nothing. 'The awful faces of other times are silent,' for the Picts never committed anything to writing. Their distinguishing characteristic was a strong principle of disunion,1 and either with each other or the poor Roman provincials there was incessant strife. But in the midst of that bitter hostility and grasping power, there were not wanting confessors of the religion that taught forgiveness of enemies and love to God and man. Foremost of these were St. Palladius, St. Serf, St . Ternan, and St. Irchard. St. Palladius is said to have been sent by Pope Celestine in 431, for the suppression of a heresy which had broken out in Ireland among the 'Scots believing in Christ:' the people of the Scots still lived in Ireland. There his labours were of short duration, and in the end of 431 he proceeded to North Britain, where he was successful in winning multitudes to the faith. He was buried at Fordun in the Mearns, where a church called Paddy's Chapel, a well in the minister's garden known as Paddy's Well, and Paddy's Fair, a yearly market on the first Tuesday after the nth of July, constitute the local memorials of him who was called emphatically the apostle of the Scots. St. Serf, known as the apostle of the Orkneys, governed a monastery at Culross in Fifeshire. St. Ternan succeeded St. Palladius at Fordun, and died at Banchory on the river Dee, called now Banchory-Ternan; and here his relics, his bell, and his copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew survived till the Reformation. St. Irchard was born and died in the braes of Tolmad, in Aberdeenshire, and his work appears to have been among the people of the Dee. Full as these four lives doubtless were of beautiful examples and heroic ventures of faith, we know little more of them than these fragments, and the great fact that they carried on and completed the work which Ninian had begun —the conversion of the southern Picts. Candida Casa was the centre of their vast mission, their resting-place, and the
repository of the Psalters and other books of Scripture, the prayer-books and spiritual treatises, which composed their scanty literature. The only men who could read and write found a quiet retreat by the Solway; and here, if the zeal of the British princes produced golden chalices, or if their wives and daughters learned to devote any of their long hours in the Castrum Puellarum to the fabrication of vestments for the service of the Son of God, they were carefully cherished.
In the year 502, a tribe of Scoto-Irish called Dalriadi, from Cairbre Riada, one of their former chiefs, passed over from Ireland, under the leadership of Fergus Mor-Mac Earca, to the western coast of North Britain. They established themselves amidst the mountains and lakes to the southward of Loch Linne, where the limits of their colonization are still traceable in the names implanted by Fergus and by succeeding princes upon the dependent districts of Lorn, Cowall, and Kintyre. These principalities, with a few of the islands off the coast of Southern Argyle, made up collectively the kingdom of Dalriada.1 A great modern historian2 speaks of the 'old effeminate polish' of these Irish colonists, and of the high standard of civilisation which separated them from the natives of the British Isles. About fifty years later, the Saxons invaded the Lothians. They soon spread in swarms in all directions, but their principal and lasting settlement was along the eastern coast, from the Humber to the Forth. Here by degrees the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, extending from Edinburgh on the one side to Newcastle-on-Tyne on the other, was established. It was during the earliest visitation of these German heathens that our Church experienced her first trial. Churches were
1 See Scotland under her Early Kings, by E. William Robertson, vol. i. p. 5. s Burton.
falling, multitudes of souls were apostatizing, immorality had become an epidemic, when, just in time to save the faith, Kentigern, the apostle of Strathclyde, was provided. His mother was St. Thenew, and he was educated by St. Serf at Culross, being led by him in the holiest paths, and receiving from him the affectionate title of Mungo, that is, the dear and gentle one.1 Tearing himself away from his beloved master, who called him the 'light of his eyes, and the staff of his old age,' blessed Kentigern, who was beautiful in person, and most beautiful in character, went forth to the work of his life, 'with a countenance full of grace and reverence, with dove-like eyes, cheeks like the turtle-dove, and with an air of heavenly joy and exultation.'2 He first visited an ancient and holy man at Carnock, called Fergus, to whom it had been revealed that he should not die till he beheld his face, and having been with him while his spirit was departing, Kentigern placed his body on a wain drawn by two wild bulls. He prayed to Almighty God that he would divinely guide the animals, and sent them away. They halted at Cathures, 'the grey ravine,' now Glasgow, and here Kentigern buried Fergus, and fixed upon the spot as the centre of his mission. Having been consecrated bishop, he erected a church at Cathures, on whose site the present cathedral was founded by Bishop Joceline, in the year 1181. While he ruled his vast diocese, which stretched throughout the kingdom of Strathclyde, from sea to sea, and dealt judiciously with idolaters and apostates, fascinating certain of those fierce souls to believe or to repent by the light of his gentle eye, his private life was that of a most holy ascetic. Before long, however, his labours were interrupted by the persecu
1 All the churches in Scotland dedicated to this saint are by his appellation of Mungo.
* Kalendars of Scottish Saints, Bishop of Brechin, p. 367. B
tion of Morken, king of Strathclyde, and on that king's death, by that of other great men of the district. He was constrained to seek refuge at Menevia, with David, afterwards patron saint of Wales. At Elwy, in Wales, he established an immense monastery, and here he governed until Rederech the Bountiful, having become king of Strathclyde, earnestly entreated him to return to Glasgow. Taking with him six hundred and sixty-five of his monks, and leaving St. Asaph, a specially-trusted child, in charge of Elwy, blessed Kentigern turned homewards. The days of his humiliation were past. He found in Rederech a faithful ally, and, prostrate before his bishop, we are told that the prince laid the supremacy of his kingdom, with imposing abnegation, at his feet. Blessed Kentigern died at the age of one hundred and eighty-five years, in the beginning of the seventh century. With him the earliest period of Scottish history, with its wonderful indisputable facts, its labyrinthine mazes of tradition, its doubtful stories, sometimes beautiful in child-like simplicity, and that we would fain believe sometimes disfigured by nonsense, is at an end. The life of St. Kentigern or Mungo was written by Brother Joceline, a monk of Furness of the twelfth century, but except as regards the leading events of the saint's career, it is not considered a very reliable narrative. Our authorities for the life of St. Ninian are the Venerable Bede, a great English monastic historian of the eighth century, and Ailred, who was abbot of Rievaux in Yorkshire in the twelfth. Ninian and Whithern, Kentigern and Glasgow, soon became people and places of a misty past. A little desert island, and one man, the highest type of piety of his age, are for many years to fill the Scottish histories. The island is Iona. It is about two miles and a half in length, and one in breadth, situated on the south-western verge of the larger island of Mull, in the outer Hebrides of Scotland. The