Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys
by Dugald Butler and Herbert Story
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In preparation for this Guild Book I wrote an account of every pre-Reformation structure in Scotland of which any remains now survive, but the prescribed limits of the series necessitated a selection. The Scottish cathedrals are all here treated, with representative collegiate and monastic buildings. Reference is also made to parish churches that represent the architecture of the various periods indicated in Chapter II. A survey of Scottish mediaeval architecture will be found in pp. 194-206 that may enable readers to take a comprehensive view of the whole. A study of those treated in particular will lead to a study of those treated of necessity in general, and illustrate the idea that the history of the Scottish Church is the history of the ideality and faith of the Scottish people, and that the one cannot be separated from the other. A healthy present must always be bound by a natural piety to the past that has made it, or at least helped it to be what it is, and this study may enable readers to realise more that the Church of Scotland has a great and glorious past that begins with the days of St. Ninian and St. Columba. The past has much to teach the present, and the narrative of historical facts is not without suggestiveness to the varied life and work that characterise the Church of Scotland to-day.

I desire to express my indebtedness to the investigations of many workers, which I have striven to recognise in the many references throughout the work, but most of all I am indebted to Messrs. MacGibbon and Ross in their colossal work, the Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland—a book of national importance.

D. B.



















This book is designed to render to Scottish Churchmen the special service of presenting to them, in a brief but comprehensive survey, the record of their ecclesiastical history which is engraved in their ecclesiastical architecture. There is no record so authentic as that which is built in stone. There is none so sacred as that which attests and illustrates the religion of our forefathers. Much of that record has perished: enough remains to engage our reverent study and our dutiful care. Foreign war and rapine have wasted and destroyed our heritage of sacred places. Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, and Haddington fell before the English invader. Iona was ravaged by the Dane, while yet the island formed part of a Scandinavian diocese. Internal lawlessness and tribal fury have wrought like disasters. Elgin, once "the fair glory of the land," stands a forlorn monument of the savagery of a Highland chief. St. Andrews, Lindores, Perth, Paisley, and many others bear witness to the reckless outrage which cloaked its violence under the guise of religious zeal. Of all our spoilers this has been the most destructive. The pretence (for it often was nothing else) of "cleansing the sanctuary" not only robbed the Church of many a priceless possession, but begat, in the popular mind, a ruthless disregard of the sacred associations of places where generation after generation had worshipped God, and a coarse indifference to the solemnity of His ordinances, which made it easy for those who should have been the guardians of the churches to let them fall, unheeded, into decay.

It is not uncommon, even yet, to find people who ought to know, and perhaps do know, better, blaming Knox and his co-reformers for the dilapidation and desecration of our ancient fanes. The blame belongs to the "rascal multitude," and to the rapacious laymen who were served heirs to the properties of the despoiled Church. What is the Church the better for their enrichment? What has religion gained by it? The Reformed Faith could have flourished none the less graciously if its purified doctrine had been preached, and its reasonable worship offered, under the same roofs that had protected priest and people in the days of Romanist error. Is the cause of pure and undefiled religion stronger in the land because Melrose and Crossraguel and Pluscarden are desolate; St. Andrews a roofless ruin; Iona as yet open to the Atlantic winds? Is the voice of praise and prayer sweeter in the North because Mortlach is effaced and Fortrose shattered, and the bells are silent which men on the mainland used to hear when the north wind blew from Kirkwall? Granted that ignorant superstition may have tainted the veneration in which our fathers' holy and beautiful houses were held 400 years ago, the iconoclasm which devastated them was not the remedy for it. The revived interest in our old churches, which has asserted its influence in such restorations as those of St. Giles, Dunblane, Linlithgow, St. Vigeans, and Arbuthnott, is no revival of superstition. It is the outcome of a more reverent spirit; of a deeper sense of the honour due to God; of the conviction that we owe Him, in all that pertains to His worship, the offering of our very best; and of a deeper consciousness also of the supreme value of the Church's national position and character, and of the duty of piously conserving whatever helps to illustrate the historical continuity which binds its present to its past. As regards this, nothing is so full of helpful stimulus as an intelligent study of our ecclesiastical architecture. In it we can read the lessons of the gradual growth of the Scottish nation from the loosely connected tribal conditions of the ninth and tenth centuries onwards to its consolidation under a settled monarchy; the development of its commercial and industrial progress; its expanding relations to the peoples of the Continent; and the vital changes in its political life, and its religious system and belief, thence resulting. All these have left their mark in those records which neither time nor revolution, neglect nor violence, have been able wholly to destroy—the architecture of our cathedrals, abbeys, and monasteries.

The primitive buildings of the early Celtic period of the Church have long since disappeared. Their clay and wattles could not withstand the wear and tear of time; only in a distant glen or lonely island can we discover scattered traces of the beehive cell or simple shrine of the anchorite or missionary. Few relics of the more substantial structures of that time survive.

The Roman era of Church organisation superseded the Celtic; and with the Roman dominance came the architecture of the Anglo-Normans, whom the presence and policy of Margaret, saint and queen, attracted to Scotland. It developed itself, always with some national characteristics of its own, until the War of Independence broke off all friendly intercourse with England.

Later came, in place of alliance with England, the alliance with France, which lasted till the Reformation, and left its mark on many of the pages of "The Great Stone Book," which chronicle for us the vicissitudes of the past, the days of peace and prosperity, of war and penury, of reviving national health and energy, of new combinations and ideas in politics and statecraft, of spiritual decay and carnal pride and ostentation. These annals can be deciphered by the patient student of the walls and cloisters of the ancient churches and religious houses.

To the founders and the owners of the latter, and chiefly to the great orders of the Augustinians, the Benedictines, and the Cistercians, we owe many of our noblest remnants of the past—all of them unhappily ruined; for the popular violence of the sixteenth century raged more fiercely against the monasteries than against the cathedrals. To the Episcopal system of government, introduced under Margaret, we owe the bishops' churches or cathedrals.

The life and thought of the Church at the present day, move far enough apart from either prelacy or monasticism to allow us to look at each with an impartial eye, and to consider whether in its abolition we have parted with aught that it would have profited the Church to retain.

The monasteries, at first the homes and shelters of charity and learning, had, before the sixteenth century, waxed fat with unduly accumulated wealth, become enervated with luxury and corrupt through bad government. They were swept away, their possessions secularised, and their communities broken up. But with them disappeared two things which were of great price: a large and liberal provision for the poor, and a comprehensive scheme of Education. The monastery gate was never shut against the suffering and the needy. The monks were indulgent landlords and kind neighbours; the sick benefited by their medical skill; the indigent could always look to them for eleemosynary aid; the houseless wanderer was never sent empty away. Those great centres of friendly helpfulness and charity were planted all over the land. No doubt the gift of indiscriminate alms to every applicant would tend to abuse and lazy beggary; but a scheme of sympathetic and well directed aid thoughtfully administered would not. Abusus non tollit usum. The scandals of the monasteries did not justify the robbery of the destitute for the benefit of the secular supplanters of the monks. The Kirk-sessions of the Reformed Kirk did their best to take the place of the former guardians and kindly benefactors of the poor, but their funds were scanty; the old wealth had fallen into tenacious hands; and schism and sectarianism finally necessitated the transfer of the care of the poor from the Church to the State.

Could the ancient system have been reformed and not destroyed, the poverty of the country would have been less grievous than it is to-day; the Church's relation to the poor more intimate; and the method of relief pleasanter to the recipients than that which makes them familiar with the grim charity of the Poor's House, the Inspector, and the Parochial Board.

The monasteries were the seats of a general system of higher education. The burghs had their own independent seminaries; the "song schools" were more closely connected with the churches in town and in country; but the highest grade of education was found in the monasteries. Before the foundation of any of the universities they supplied the place both of secondary school and university, and trained the youth, especially of the higher ranks, until prepared to go out into the world, as they constantly did, speaking the "lingua-franca" of all scholars, and carrying Scottish energy, genius, and scholarship into the halls and cloisters of many a college and many a monastery, from Coimbra to Cracow, from Salerno to Upsala. These schools all perished with the downfall of the monasteries; and consequently we cannot, to this day, cope with the great public schools of England, or adequately supply the blank in our educational system created by their spoliation and abolition. Here, too, wise reform might have spared and remodelled what misguided zeal, allied with unprincipled greed, destroyed.

With the ruination and impoverishment of the cathedrals, an element in the Church's life inseparable from them, and most salutary and useful, ceased to be. The bishops' deprivation of an authority they had too often disgraced and misused, vested the government of the Church in the presbyterate; and the national sentiment approved of the change. But there was no necessity for upsetting the whole cathedral system, and rooting out the whole cathedral staff, because the bishop was turned adrift. Had the Canonries been spared, an immense boon would have been secured for the Reformed Church. Had the stipends attached to them not been alienated, the Church would have possessed, at all its most important centres, a staff of clergymen chosen for their ability and worth, for their learning and power of government and organisation, aiding the minister in his work, or enriching the theological literature of their time. With them might have been associated younger men, either under their supervision as candidates for the ministry, or as probationers acquiring practical knowledge of its duties and requirements. The cathedral would have stood out, in its city, great or small, as the Mother Church—holding forth the model of devout ritual, of earnest and learned teaching, of zealous work. How vastly superior its influence would have been, spiritually, intellectually, socially, to that of struggling quoad sacra churches, with their ill-paid clergy, or "missions" in charge of worse-paid probationers, it is, I think, needless to point out. But the possibility of such an institution passed away when the cathedrals were desecrated, and their revenues were "grippit"—to use Knox's phrase—by the ungodly robbers of the Church.

I have written these few pages to serve as an introduction to what follows, from the hand of my friend, Mr. Butler. The Committee of the Guild asked me to prepare a volume on the most notable of our ancient churches; and finding that other engagements stood in the way of my doing so, I recommended that the work should be entrusted to Mr. Butler, of whose ability to do it well I felt confident. Having read what he has written, I find my confidence was not misplaced, and that his treatment of the subject is most instructive, thorough, and exact. It will add to the reputation he has already gained by his history of his own parish of Abernethy on Tay, and his books on Wesley in Scotland, and on Henry Scougal; and will prove an invaluable guide to all students of our historic churches, cathedral, collegiate, and monastic.

R. H. S.




The period begun by the influence of Queen Margaret (1047-1093), continued by her sons and their successors on the Scottish throne, and culminating in the Scottish Reformation of 1560, is that with which this book deals.

The old Celtic Church of Scotland was brought to an end by two causes—internal decay and external change. Under the first head, notice must be taken of the encroachment upon the ecclesiastic element by the secular, and of the gradual absorption of the former by the latter. There was a vitality in the old ecclesiastical organisation, but it was weakened by the assimilation of the native Church to that of Rome in the seventh and eighth centuries, which introduced a secular element among the clergy; and the frequent Danish invasions, which may be described as the organised power of Paganism against Scottish Christianity, grievously undermined its native force. The Celtic churches and monasteries were repeatedly laid waste or destroyed, and the native clergy were compelled either to fly or take up arms in defence; the lands, unprotected by the strong arm of law, fell into the hands of laymen, who made them hereditary in their families, and ultimately nothing was left but the name of abbacy, applied to the lands, and that of abbot, borne by a secular lord. Under the second head—external change—may be noted the policy adopted towards the Celtic Church by the kings of the race of Queen Margaret. It consisted (1) in placing the Church upon a territorial in place of a tribal basis, in substituting the parochial system and a diocesan episcopacy for the old tribal churches with monastic jurisdiction and functional episcopacy; (2) in introducing the orders of the Church of Rome, and founding great monasteries as counter influences to the Celtic Church; (3) in absorbing the Culdees or Columban clergy into the Roman system, by first converting them from secular into regular canons, and afterwards by merging them in the latter order.[1] King David especially founded bishoprics and established cathedrals, equipped with the ordinary cathedral staff of deans, canons, and other functionaries, and monasteries equipped with representatives of the monastic orders. Thus the native Celtic Church, undermined by internal decay, was extinguished by external change and a course of aggression which rolled from St. Andrews until it reached the far-off shores of Iona. All that remained to speak of its vitality and beneficence to the people of Scotland consisted of the roofless walls of an early church, or an old churchyard with its Celtic cross; the names of the early pastors by whom the churches were founded, or the neighbouring wells at the old foundations, dedicated to their memory; the village fairs, stretching back to a remote antiquity, and held on the saint's day in the Scottish calendar; here and there a few lay families possessing the church lands as the custodiers of the pastoral staff or other relics of the founder of the church, and exercising a jurisdiction over the ancient "girth" or sanctuary boundary such as the early missionaries instituted in the days when might was right, and they nobly witnessed to the right against the might.

The new policy was connected with the introduction of the orders of the Roman Catholic Church, and with the building of cathedrals and abbeys. This movement commenced with the close of the eleventh century, and continued to the middle of the sixteenth; it embraced all the time when the Church of Scotland was guided by the regime of Rome, although it is to be recalled that the Scottish Church never ceased to maintain a native independence—its heirloom from the ancient Celtic Church. This independence, manifested on important historical occasions throughout mediaeval times, at last found its national embodiment in the Reformed Church of 1560.

Scotland was divided into thirteen dioceses—St. Andrews, Glasgow, Dunkeld, Aberdeen, Moray, Brechin, Dunblane, Ross, Caithness, Galloway, Lismore or Argyll, the Isles, and Orkney; but before sketching the history and architecture of each of the thirteen cathedrals, it will be necessary to indicate the general features of the various periods of Scottish architecture itself, as it is of this movement the structures themselves are all an expression.



Architecture is a great stone book in which nations have recorded their annals, before the days of the printing-press: have written their thoughts, expressed their aspirations, and embodied their feelings as clearly and truly as by any other form of utterance. We know Egypt as vividly by its pyramids, the age of Pericles by the Parthenon of Athens, Imperial Rome by the Flavian Amphitheatre and the Baths of Caracalla, as from the pages of their respective literature. The mediaeval cathedrals, monasteries, and churches are a living record of the faith and devotion of mediaeval men, who have left besides them but little else whereby we can know their aspirations and civilisation; we find in them an expression of the deepest life that characterised the periods to which they belong, and a record which, though often mutilated, and sometimes nearly obliterated, never deceives. Wherever these architectural creations are found, there also a voice ought to be heard, telling what at that spot and at some previous time men thought and felt; what their civilisation enabled them to accomplish, and to what state they had attained in their conception of God. In a very true sense it can be said that the architecture of a country is the history of that country, and that the record of the architecture is the record of its civilisation.

"Mediaeval architecture," said Sir Gilbert Scott, "is distinguished from all other styles as being the last link of the mighty chain which had stretched unbroken through nearly 4000 years—the glorious termination of the history of original and genuine architecture....[2] It has been more entirely developed under the influence of the Christian religion, and more thoroughly carried out its tone and sentiment, than any other style. It is par eminence Christian.... Its greatest glory is the solemnity of religious character which pervades the interior of its temples. To this all its other attributes must bend, as it is this which renders it so pre-eminently suited to the highest uses of the Christian Church. It was this, probably, which led Romney to exclaim, that if Grecian architecture was the work of glorious men, Gothic was the invention of gods."[3] This architecture was perfected by the mediaeval builders—the round arch in the twelfth and the pointed arch in the two succeeding centuries. Its progress was the realisation of three great aims, towards which the Romanesque architects were ever striving—the perfecting of the arcuated and vaulted construction, the increase of the altitude of their proportion, and the general adding of refinement and delicacy to their details.[4]

Scotland, it has been maintained by those competent to judge, can show a continuous series of Christian structures, beginning with the primitive cells and oratories of the early anchorites, and extending through all the periods of mediaeval art. It exemplifies two distinctive phases of artistic development—the first comprising the rise and decline of Celtic Art in early Christian times, and the second allied to the various stages of general European culture. The Celtic churches, round towers, and sculptured monuments similar to those found in Ireland, are followed by primitive examples of Norman work, pointing to the Saxon and Norman influence of the eleventh century, which produced a complete revolution in the artistic elements of the country and led to a full development of the Romanesque or Norman style of architecture—a style similar to the round arched architecture of other European countries in the twelfth century. This is manifested chiefly in small parish churches, but also in large, elaborate buildings, and one cathedral.[5]

The succeeding Gothic styles are also well represented in Scotland, and exhibit both certain local peculiarities and a general correspondence with the arts of the different periods in France and England. The First Pointed style is represented in Scotland during the thirteenth century, but owing to the disastrous situation of the country during the fourteenth century, the number of "decorated" buildings is pronounced to be comparatively small. On the other hand, it is maintained that during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when the "Perpendicular" style prevailed in England and the "Flamboyant" in France, the architecture of Scotland was distinguished by a style peculiar to the country, in which many features derived from both the above styles may be detected.[6] "While the mediaeval architecture of Scotland thus corresponds on the whole with that of the rest of Europe, there exists in the ecclesiology of the country an amount of native development sufficient to give it a special value as one of the exponents of the art of the Middle Ages. Its buildings further contribute largely to the illustration of the history of the country, by showing in their remains the condition and growth of its religious ideas and observances at different epochs, and the manner in which its civilisation advanced. We observe striking evidences of the Irish influence in the relics of the primitive Celtic Church. The Norman and English influences are clearly traceable up to the invasion of Edward I., and the political connection with France and the Netherlands is distinctly observable in the period of the Jameses."[7]


The Abernethy Round Tower, the Priory of Restennet, Forfarshire, and St. Regulus' or St. Rule's Church, St. Andrews, illustrate the transition from Celtic to Norman architecture.[8] The dates of the Irish round towers[9] extend from the ninth to the twelfth century, and the Abernethy Tower is regarded on historical grounds by Dr. Skene as belonging to the period about 870 A.D.; the upper windows and doorway are either additions of the twelfth century, or, as this was an early Irish house in Scotland, may illustrate what has been asserted, that in Ireland a form of Romanesque was introduced before the Anglo-Saxon Invasion.[10] At any rate, the tower is a combination of Celtic and Norman work. As to Restennet, the present choir is a First Pointed structure. David I. founded there an Augustinian Priory, which Malcolm IV. made a cell of the Abbey of Jedburgh. The tower is the only one of the square towers which has very marked features of a pre-Norman character.[11] The building above the second story is probably fifteenth-century work. St. Regulus' Church is treated pp. 17-19.

The twelfth century was in Scotland as elsewhere the great church-building period, and the number of churches in the south and east that reflect the Norman movement is very large. All the large ones were conventual. Parish churches of the period are generally small and aisleless—the most of them being single oblong chambers, with an eastern chancel, sometimes with an eastern apse, and occasionally with a western tower.[12] Towards the close of the period, the ornament became very elaborate, especially in the arched heads of doorways. A common feature was the arcade running round the walls below the windows, either in the exterior, interior, or both; the caps and arches are generally carved elaborately and richly with ornaments, the chevron or zig-zag enrichment being a characteristic feature. The windows are always single and simple in detail.[13]

Some of the towers connected with such churches are amongst the earliest instances of Norman work which survive; they are simple in design, square on plan, and are carried up, without break or buttress, to the parapet, where they are finished with a gable roof, forming the saddle-back arrangement still preserved in the Muthill Tower.[14] The break in the height is formed by string courses, which mark the unequal stories. A small wheel-stair usually leads to the top, and the doorway is occasionally several feet from the ground. Such are the leading features that can be traced in the buildings connected with the period.


The term "transition" is by general agreement reserved for the architecture of the end of the twelfth century, when the Norman style gradually gave place to the first pointed Gothic style. In England this period extends from about 1180 to 1200; in Scotland it extends considerably into the thirteenth century. The characteristics of the style are the gradual introduction of the pointed arch and its use along with some of the decorative features of the Norman style. "The pointed arch shows the advent of the new style, but the ornaments of the old style continue to linger for a time. The first pointed style was not complete till these old ornaments were abandoned, and the more vigorous enrichments of the new style were introduced. The other constructive features of the Norman style gradually changed at the same time as the arch. The buttresses by degrees assumed the projecting form of the first pointed style, and the pinnacles and spires of the latter style were in course of time introduced."[15]


"The pointed Gothic style which had its origin in the north of France about the middle of the twelfth century appeared in England about 1170, but can scarcely be said to have reached Scotland till after the close of the twelfth century.... The pointed arch, for example, although generally adopted, did not entirely displace, as it had done in the south, the round form of the Normans, a feature which, especially in doorways, continued to be employed not only in the thirteenth century, but throughout the whole course of Gothic art in Scotland. In other respects the thirteenth century style in this country corresponds very closely with that of England. Its features are however, generally speaking, plainer and the structures are smaller."[16]

"This new departure sprung from the necessity which arose for the invention of an elastic system of vaulting which should admit of all the arches, forming vaults over spaces of any form or plan, being carried to the same height at the ridge. This requirement led to the introduction of the pointed arch in the vaulting, and from that departure it soon spread to all the other arched features of the architecture."[17] Architecture, which had hitherto been confined to the monasteries, was now undertaken by laymen, and while the great monasteries were either rebuilt or founded, the cathedrals mostly belong to this period. To these attention was chiefly devoted, and the number of parish churches constructed was comparatively small. This partly arose from the large number of parish churches built during the Norman period. In Scotland the cathedrals of St. Andrews, Dunblane, Glasgow (the choir and crypt), Elgin, Brechin, Dunkeld, Caithness, the choir of St. Magnus in Orkney and Galloway belong in whole or in part to this epoch.[18]


The period from 1214 to 1286 comprised the first pointed work in Scotland. The country was during the time prosperous, and is believed to have been more wealthy than at any time till after the Union with England.[19] The disputed succession after the death of Alexander III. gave Edward I. the opportunity of asserting his claims to the Scottish throne; war followed, and with it poverty and barbarism. "The first note of contest," says Dr. Joseph Robertson, "banished every English priest, monk, and friar from the northern realm. Its termination was followed by the departure of those great Anglo-Norman lords—the flower of the Scottish baronage—who, holding vast possessions in both countries, had so long maintained among the rude Scottish hills the generous example of English wealth and refinement. Then it was that De la Zouche and De Quincy, Ferrars and Talbot, Beaumont and Umfraville, Percy and Wake, Moubray and Fitz-Warine, Balliol and Cumyn, Hastings and De Coursi, ceased to be significant names beyond the Tweed—either perishing in that terrible revolution or withdrawing to their English domains, there to perpetuate in scutcheon and pedigree the memory of their rightful claims to many of the fairest lordships of Albany, and to much of the reddest blood of the north."[20] This had a twofold consequence to architecture. Comparatively few buildings arose in the north, and these were in a smaller scale. And England now becoming an hereditary enemy, no longer supplied models for the churches north of the Tweed, which received the impress of France. In England the First Pointed was succeeded about 1272 by the Middle Pointed or Decorated, which swayed for about a century, being succeeded by the Third Pointed or Perpendicular, whose reign, beginning about 1377, ended with the Reformation.[21] The Decorated style did not reach Scotland till it had passed away in England, and the Scottish representatives of the style are scanty in number and late in date.[22] When the country revived after the long struggle with England, and building began towards the close of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century, few new works were undertaken, energy and resources were concentrated on the rebuilding or completion of the edifices that had been destroyed or left unfinished. This period, along with the Third Pointed in Scotland, is regarded as the work of native architects.[23]


The Middle Pointed passed by a gentle gradation into the Late Pointed style, and it is difficult to say when the one ceased and the other began. Yet there are some characteristics of the Third Pointed which are peculiar to it and render it a distinct epoch. The large churches are nearly all restorations, and no new churches of great size were undertaken. The Scottish churches are usually smaller in size than the English ones, and consist of single compartments without aisles. The east end frequently terminates with a three-sided apse—a feature which owes its origin to the Scottish alliance and intercourse with France. The leading and distinguishing feature is, however, the vaulting—the pointed barrel vault being almost universally employed. The windows of these churches are necessarily low, so as to allow the point of the arch-head to come beneath the spring of the main vault. The buttresses are generally somewhat stunted. The windows are almost always pointed, and contain simple tracery derived from the earlier styles. The doorways are generally of the old round-headed form, with late foliage and enrichments. Porches are occasionally introduced, and coats of arms are commonly carved on shields of the period, and are useful in determining the dates of portions of the buildings. Towers were generally erected or intended, and are somewhat stunted, finished with short spires, having small dormer windows inserted in them. Monuments are of frequent occurrence, and are frequently placed in arched and canopied recesses. Richly carved sacrament-houses are occasionally introduced, and perhaps some of the good carving may be due to the French masons who were numerous in Scotland during the reigns of James IV. and James V. The structures of the period were either parish or collegiate churches.[24]



The connection between St. Andrews and the neighbouring Pictish Church at Abernethy was, during the early period, very close. Dr. Skene thinks that the first church at Abernethy was built during the visit of St. Ninian to the Southern Picts, or the people living between the Forth and the territory south of the Grampians; it was endowed with lands by King Nectan in 460 A.D., and dedicated to St. Bride;[25] and between 584 and 596, during St. Columba's visit, and as a result of his mission, a church was rebuilt by Gartnaidh, King of the Picts.[26] St. Columba is distinctly stated to have preached among the tribes on the banks of the Tay,[27] and to have been assisted in this work by St. Cainnech, who founded a church in the east end of the province of Fife, near where the Eden pours its waters into the German Ocean, at a place called Rig-Monadh, or the royal mount, which afterwards became famous as the site on which the church of St. Andrews was founded, and as giving to that place the name of Kilrimont.[28] The earliest Celtic church at St. Andrews was probably, like that of Iona, constructed with wattles and turf and roofed with thatch. It was customary to have caves or places of retirement for the hermits; they were used, too, as oratories or places of penance, and one such there is at St. Andrews, known as St. Rule's cave:—

Where good Saint Rule his holy lay, From midnight to the dawn of day, Sang to the billows' sound.[29]

The connection of the place with St. Andrew has no historical basis till between 736 and 761, when a cathedral was dedicated to St. Andrew, and a portion of his relics was brought by Acca, Bishop of Northumbria, who was banished from that country in 732, and founded a church among the Picts. Dr. Skene points to the similarity of the events which succeeded one another in Northumbria and Southern Pictland in the eighth century. In the former country the Columban clergy were expelled, secular clergy were introduced, dedications were made to St. Peter, and afterwards Hexham was dedicated to St. Andrew and received the relics of the Apostle, brought there by one of its bishops; in the latter country, sixty years later, the Picts expelled the Columban monks, introduced the secular clergy, placed the kingdom under the patronage of St. Peter, and then receiving from some unknown quarter the relics of St. Andrew, founded the church in honour of that Apostle, who became the national patron-saint.[30] This "cathedral," dedicated to St. Andrew, was probably of stone, and was the church intervening between the early Celtic Church and that of St. Regulus. Angus, King of the Picts, endowed it with lands.

On the destruction of Iona by the Danes, the bishopric was first transferred to Dunkeld (850-864); then to Abernethy (865-908), when the Round Tower was probably built;[31] and in 908 it was transferred to St. Andrews, which retained it until the Reformation. St. Adrian was probably one of the three bishops of Alban[32] at Abernethy, as chapels and crosses in the district are all connected with his name; and Cellach appears as the first Bishop at St. Andrews, and he was succeeded by eight Culdee bishops, the last of whom was Fothad, who officiated at the marriage of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret. The next three bishops all died before consecration, and for about sixteen years after the death of Malcolm the bishopric would appear to have been vacant. Turgot, Queen Margaret's friend and confessor, was the thirteenth bishop, and ruled from 1107-1115—the first bishop not of native birth.

Prior to 1107 the Culdee community had split up into two sections, dividing the spiritualities and temporalities between them, and Bishop Robert (1121-1159), with the object of superseding the Culdees, founded in 1144 a priory for the regular monks of St. Augustine, granting to them the Hospital of St. Andrews, with portions of the altarage. In the same year King David granted a charter to the prior and canons of St. Andrews, in which he provided that they shall receive the Keledei of Kilrimont into the canonry, with all their possessions and revenues, if they were willing to become canons-regular; but, if they refused, those who are now alive are to retain the property during their lives, and, after their death, as many canons-regular are to be instituted in the church of St. Andrews as there are now Keledei, and all their possessions are to be appropriated to the use of the canons. There were thus two rival ecclesiastical bodies in St. Andrews—the old corporation of secular priests and the new order of Austin-canons; the former enjoyed the greater part of the old endowments, and the latter recovered a considerable portion of the secularised property that had passed into lay hands. Popes, bishops, and kings endeavoured to end this rivalry, but their efforts were not crowned with success; although influence was on the side of the canons-regular, the Keledei clung to their prescriptive right to take part in the election of a bishop down to 1273, when they were excluded by protest; in 1332 they were absolutely excluded, and the formula of their exclusion from taking part in the election was repeated;[33] we hear of them afterwards not as Keledei, but as "the provostry of the Church of St. Mary of the city of St. Andrews," of "the Church of the Blessed Mary of the Rock," and of "the provostry of Kirkheugh"—the society consisting of a provost and ten prebendaries.[34]

In the reign of Malcolm IV. the bishopric of St. Andrews included the counties of Fife, Kinross, Clackmannan, the three Lothians, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, parts of Perthshire, Forfarshire, and Kincardineshire; and, although the see was lessened by the creation of new bishoprics, the importance of St. Andrews was always great, for at the Reformation the primate's ecclesiastical jurisdiction included 2 archdeaconries, 9 rural deaneries, the patronage of 131 benefices, the administration of 245 parishes. In 1471 or 1472 the see was erected into an archbishopric by a bull of Pope Sixtus IV. and at this time the Archbishop of York surrendered his claim to have the Bishop of St. Andrews as his suffragan—a claim repeatedly made since the time of Turgot and as frequently resented. The office of bishop or archbishop involved great spiritual and temporal power; the primates were lords of regality and ultimate heirs of all confiscated property within their domains; they levied customs and at times had the power of coining money; they presided at synods, controlled the appointment of abbots and priors, were included with the King in the oath of allegiance, and took precedence next to the royal family, and before all the Scottish nobility. There were in all thirty-one bishops and six archbishops, who held the see in succession from 908 to 1560, and among the more famous of them may be mentioned Turgot, the friend and biographer of Queen Margaret (1107-1115); Robert, prior of Scone, who founded the Priory of St. Andrews, received the gift of the Culdee Monastery of Lochleven, and built the church and tower of St. Rule (1124-1158); Arnold, Abbot of Kelso, who started the building of the great cathedral (1158-1159); William Wishart of Pitarrow, who was lord-chancellor and bishop (1273-1279), and rebuilt, between 1272 and 1279, the west front, which was blown down by a tempest of wind; William Lamberton (1298-1328), who consecrated the cathedral in 1318, in the presence of King Robert the Bruce; Henry Wardlaw (1404-1440), who founded in 1411 the University of St. Andrews; James Kennedy (1440-1466)—the greatest of all the bishops—who founded St. Salvador's College; James Stewart (1497-1503), second son of James III., Duke of Ross and Marquis of Ormond, who was made primate at twenty-one; Alexander Stewart (1506-1513), who was the natural son of James IV., and fell with his father at Flodden; James Beaton (1522-1539), who founded St. Mary's College and burnt Patrick Hamilton; David Beaton, nephew of James Beaton (1539-1546), who burnt Wishart and was murdered; John Hamilton (1549-1571), who was the author of the Catechism of 1552.[35]

As to the buildings, St. Regulus' or St. Rule's, standing in the ancient churchyard at a distance of about 120 feet south-east of the east end of the Cathedral of St. Andrews, was unquestionably the earlier Cathedral Church, and occupies probably the site of the earlier Celtic church.

Bishop Robert (1121-1159) introduced the canons-regular of St. Augustine in 1144, and these gradually absorbed many of the Culdees into their community. It was during this time also that St. Rule's was built. Dr. Joseph Robertson says of it:—"The little Romanesque church and square tower at St. Andrews, which bear the name of St. Rule, have, so far as we know, no prototype in the south.... No one acquainted with the progress of architecture will have much difficulty in identifying the building with the small 'basilica' reared by Bishop Robert, an English canon-regular of the order of St. Augustine, between the years 1127 and 1144."[36] The Pictish Chronicle states that Robert was elected Bishop in the reign of Alexander I., but was not consecrated till the reign of David I. in 1138; that, after his consecration by Thurstan, Archbishop of York, he expended on this work one-seventh of the altar dues which fell to him, reserving them for his own use. "But inasmuch as the outlay was small, the building made correspondingly small progress, until, by the Divine favour, and the influence of the King, offerings flowed in, and the work went on apace. The basilica was thus founded and in great part constructed."[37]

What now remains of this building consists of a square tower, 112 feet high, and an oblong chamber. Discussion has arisen as to whether there ever was a nave, and in favour of the positive view it is urged that marks of three successive roofs may be seen on the tower-wall, and that the seals of the church, dated 1204 and 1214, show a nave and chancel. Eminent authorities take this view. Sir Gilbert Scott thinks that the large size of the western arch, and the mark of the roof on the tower, suggest a nave;[38] while later authorities, recalling that this church was once a cathedral, as well as the church of a monastery, and served the purpose of a parish church, hold it as more than probable that it must have been a larger building than the simple oblong chamber to the east of the tower which now survives.[39]

The architecture corresponds with the period of Bishop Robert,[40] so that there is more than probability in averring that St. Rule's was the cathedral built by this bishop, and took the place of an earlier Celtic church, founded by Bishop Acca. The square tower of St. Regulus was probably designed to fulfil the same purposes as the Round Towers of Abernethy and Brechin: (1) to serve as a belfry; (2) to be a keep or place of strength in which the sacred utensils, books, relics, and other valuables were deposited, and into which the ecclesiastics could retire for security in case of sudden predatory attack; (3) when occasion required, to be a beacon or watch-tower.[41]

Besides the Church of St. Regulus, there are still to be seen the ruins of the great Cathedral of St. Andrews, which consisted of a short aisleless presbytery, and choir of five bays with side aisles, with an eastern chapel in each aisle; north and south transepts, each of three bays with eastern aisles; nave of twelve bays with north and south aisles, and a large central tower over the crossing. The interior dimensions were—total length, 355 feet; width of nave, 63 feet; length of transepts, 167 feet 6 inches; width, 43 feet 2 inches. The older parts of the Cathedral exhibit traces of the transition from the Norman architecture, but the principal parts of the structure have been carried out in the First Pointed style.[42]

The Cathedral Church was also the Conventual Church of the Austin-canons, and the Bishop was ex officio prior of the monastery. Of the conventual buildings erected by Bishop Robert nothing remains.

The Cathedral was erected from east to west in about 115 years.[43] The work was commenced by Bishop Arnold in 1161, was continued by eleven successive bishops, and was consecrated by Bishop Lamberton in 1318. During its progress in 1276, the eastern end was greatly injured by a violent tempest, and in 1378 the Cathedral suffered from fire, which according to Wyntoun destroyed the south half of the nave from the west end, and eastward to and including the ninth pillar. The restoration was begun at once by Bishop Landel (1341-1385), and completed in the time of Bishop Wardlaw (1404-1440), who in 1430 improved the interior by the introduction of fine pavements in the choir, transept, and nave, and by filling the nave with stained glass and building a large window in the eastern gable. The south wall of the nave extends considerably westwards beyond the present west end, and contains the remains of a vaulting shaft, leading to the inference that the Cathedral was originally of greater length than it now is by at least 34 feet. The north wall of nave also projects westwards about 7 feet. There is a difficulty in connection with the west front, and it is regarded by competent authorities that this wall was not part of a western porch, but "indicates that there has been a change in the design, and that the original intention of having a wide porch extending along the whole of the west end has been departed from after the first story was built up to the level of the above string course, all above that point being of later design and execution."[44]

The early chapter-house was 26 feet square, and was vaulted with four central pillars. It opened to the cloisters, and the doorway is pronounced to be in the purest style of early pointed architecture.[45] Bishop Lamberton (1298-1328) erected a new chapter-house, and the old one was made a vestibule to the new. South of the early chapter-house was probably the fratery; on the upper floor of this building and the chapter-house was the dormitory—a wheel-stair leading to it from the south transept. On the west side of the cloister was the sub-prior's house, known also as Senzie House; south-east of the fratery is the prior's house or Hospitium Vetus, which was sometimes the residence of the bishop. West of the cathedral are the remains of the entrance gateway, called the "Pends," and in continuation of the "Pends" was the enclosing wall of the priory grounds, containing sixteen towers. The Guest-House was within the precinct of St. Leonard's College, and was built about the middle of the thirteenth century.[46] Within the precincts of the Priory-grounds were the various offices connected with the great ecclesiastical establishment.

The conventual and other buildings attached to the Cathedral have been recently excavated at the expense of the late Marquis of Bute, and considerable remains of the foundations disclosed to view. The ruins of the castle stand on a rocky promontory, overhanging the sea, N.N.W. of the Cathedral; and between the Cathedral-wall on the N.E. and the sea are the foundations of a chapel dedicated to the Virgin.

In 1559 the Cathedral was attacked by the mob and greatly destroyed. Time and weather helped to complete the work of destruction; the Protestant Archbishop Spottiswoode in 1635 strove to make provision for its restoration, but nothing appears to have been done to arrest the work of destruction. The Barons of Exchequer in 1826 took possession of the ruins, had the rubbish cleared away, and what remained of the great building strengthened. The pier-bases have been made visible, and the outline of the building marked on the turf. St. Andrews has been associated with most of the stirring events in Scottish Church history, and will always possess its two great voices of the Cathedral and the Sea.


Towards the end of the fourth century, St. Ninian, a Christian missionary trained at Rome in the doctrine and discipline of the Western Church, is said to have established a religious cell on the banks of the Molendinar. How long he remained there is uncertain, but his labours are chiefly centred around the Candida Casa at Whithorn and among the southern Picts, whose district, according to Bede, he evangelised. With St. Ninian's departure, the district around the Molendinar relapsed into barbarism, and the only remaining monument of his work was a cemetery which he was reputed to have consecrated. The next historical reference to Glasgow is in connection with St. Kentigern, or, as he was popularly known, St. Mungo, about the middle of the sixth century. He was of royal descent, and was born in 518 or 527. His biographer, Joceline, states that he was adopted and educated by St. Servanus or St. Serf, who lived at Culross, and by him was named "Munghu," i.e. dearest friend. But this must be a mistake, for Servanus lived two centuries after Kentigern's time;[47] if it is correct, there must have been an earlier and a later St. Serf. On attaining his twenty-fifth year, according to Joceline, he proceeded to Carnock, where lived a holy man named Fergus. After he reached the abode of Fergus, the good man said his "nunc dimittis" and died; and Kentigern, placing his body on a wain drawn by two bulls, took his departure, praying to be guided to the place which might be appointed for burial. The place where the wain stopped was Cathures, afterwards called Glasgow, where St. Ninian had consecrated a cemetery, and here Fergus was buried. Such is Joceline's account of Kentigern's first connection with Glasgow. The king and people of the district pressed him to remain as their bishop, and he consented, establishing his see at Cathures and founding a lay society of the servants of God, and fixing his own abode on the banks of the Molendinar. After some years of austerity and beneficence there, he was driven from his work by the persecutions of an apostate prince and settled in the vale of Clwyd, North Wales, where he founded a monastery. After a time he returned to Glasgow, at the solicitation of the King of Cumbria, and appointed St. Asaph as his successor in Wales. In a martyrology ascribed to the year 875 Kentigern appears as "bishop of Glasgow and confessor."[48] While resident at Glasgow, St. Kentigern was visited by St. Columba, his distinguished contemporary and the apostle of the Picts, who presented him with a crozier, which, Fordun says, was afterwards preserved in St. Wilfrid's Church at Ripon. Bishop Forbes describes the meeting of the two great men "as one of those incidents which we wish to be true, and which we have no certainty for believing not to be so."[49] St. Kentigern died in 603 or 614, and was buried in Glasgow, which is still known as the city of St. Mungo—Mungo being his name of honour or affection. Everything connected with St. Mungo's early church, of wood and wattles or of stone, on the banks of the Molendinar, is shrouded in the mists of antiquity until the first quarter of the twelfth century, when David, Prince and Earl of Cumbria, the youngest son of Queen Margaret, took measures to reconstruct the see and recover its property. Of Glasgow during the Culdee period nothing can be definitely known. The result of Prince David's inquest is contained in the Register of the Bishopric,[50] and it sets forth that Prince David, from love to God and by the exhortation of the Bishop, having caused inquiry to be made concerning the lands belonging to the church in Cumbria, had ascertained that they belonged to the church of Glasgow, and restored them. These lands extended from the Clyde on the north to the Solway and English March on the south, from the western boundary of Lothian on the east to the river Urr on the west, including Teviotdale, and comprehended what afterwards formed the site of the city of Glasgow.[51] The building of the cathedral would appear to have been begun before David succeeded to the throne in 1124, and he appointed his tutor John (called Achaius) to the bishopric. In 1136 the church, which was probably chiefly of wood, was dedicated, and King David endowed it further with lands, tithes, and churches. The church of Achaius was destroyed by fire, but through the exertions of Bishop Joceline a society was founded to collect funds for its restoration, and the work was sufficiently advanced for its consecration on 6th July 1197.[52] Although built at different dates, the building has a very homogeneous appearance, and might be mistaken for a building of one period. Under competent guidance,[53] we now propose to give a short sketch of the cathedral itself.

The first attempt to erect a cathedral was made by Bishop Achaius, whose episcopate extended from 1115 to 1147, and Mr. Honeyman regards the portion of the lower church at the south-west angle as the most ancient part of the structure. He holds that the church built by Achaius was restored by Bishop Joceline (1175-1199) at the end of the twelfth century, and that the above portion formed a chapel, and was part of that restoration. The strongest argument is its nearness to the tomb of the patron saint. If we assume that the old choir terminated in a semicircular apse, projecting eastward beyond the aisles, we shall find that the tomb would be enclosed in such a position as to admit of the high altar being placed immediately over it. Assuming that the choir was not apsidal but square, we get the same result. The probability is that the end of the church erected or altered by Joceline was square, and that it projected two bays beyond the aisles, as at St. Andrews and other churches of the same period.[54] The crypt, or, strictly speaking, "lower church," was evidently suggested by the sloping eastward character of the site, which would have placed St. Mungo's tomb at a depth below the level on which a large church could possibly be built; while Achaius, from his long residence in Italy, would be led to imitate some notable Italian examples.[55] Some similarities between Glasgow and Jedburgh (which was in the diocese of Glasgow) have suggested that there was in the olden times such a servant of the church as a diocesean architect.[56] "One thing is abundantly clear," says Mr. Honeyman, "to any one who intelligently studies the building, namely, that the whole design was carefully thought out and settled before a stone was laid. It is a skilful and homogeneous design, which could only be produced by a man of exceptional ability and great experience. Nothing has been left to chance, or to the sweet will of the co-operating craftsman, but the one master-mind has dictated every moulding and every combination, and has left the impress of his genius upon it all. The mark of the master may be discerned by the practised eye in every feature of the magnificent edifice; the marks of the craftsmen may be seen on the work they were told to do, and did so well."[57] To Bishop Joceline is due the credit of having formed a society to collect funds for the restoration of Bishop John's church, which was burnt by fire,[58] and he appears to have rebuilt the choir, and also to have designed, if he did not also partly build, the nave.[59] This part of his work was sufficiently advanced for consecration on 6th July 1197.[60] The work was probably continued by his successors, but the next great benefactor of the cathedral was Bishop William de Bondington (1233-1258), who perfected Joceline's work, and built both choir and lower church or "crypt," as they now are.[61] According to Mr. Honeyman, the foundations of the nave were laid and part of the walls was carried up before the building of the choir was begun.[62] Most of the nave appears, from its architecture, to have been erected at the end of the thirteenth, or the beginning of the fourteenth century, and is pronounced to form "one of the finest examples of the late First Pointed or Early Decorated style in Scotland."[63] "The spacing (of the piers) is that of the twelfth century (considerably less than that of the choir), while the height and the treatment, in other respects, is that of the latter portion of the thirteenth."[64]

Bishop Wishart during the war of Independence supported the Scottish party; he obtained permission from Edward I. to cut timber in Luss forest for erecting the spire of the cathedral, and it was one of the causes of accusation against him, which led to his imprisonment in England, that he had used the said timber not for building the spire but for making engines of war wherewith to attack Edward's army. In 1400 the wooden spire of the cathedral was destroyed by lightning, but a new tower of masonry was erected over the crossing by Bishop Lauder (1408-1425), who carried the work as high as the main parapet. "This bishop appears also to have begun the completion of the chapter-house, a detached structure lying to the north-east of the choir. The walls of this building were partly erected about the time of the construction of the choir, but were afterwards raised to two storeys in height, and vaulted by Bishop Cameron."[65] This latter prelate (1426-1446) was known as "the Magnificent," from the splendour of his retinue and court. He erected the stone spire above the tower of Bishop Lauder, and also completed the chapter-house wing containing the sacristy on the upper floor, and the chapter-house on the ground floor. His arms are still to be seen on the portions of the structure erected by him. The beautiful rood-screen was also probably constructed by him.[66] Bishop Cameron also increased the number of prebendaries from seven to thirty-two, and ordained that they should all have manses and reside near the cathedral. In his day the episcopal court was said to rival that of the King, and he built the great tower of the castle or episcopal palace, which was probably erected by Bishop Bondington and stood with the garden in the open space between the cathedral and the present Castle Street, now called Infirmary Square. The Bishop's palace was a Scottish baronial structure, and had an elaborate turreted gateway or port at the south-east angle of the wall nearly opposite the gate that now leads to the cathedral yard.[67] Bishop William Turnbull, who succeeded Bishop Cameron, held office from 1448 to 1454. He did not add much to the cathedral, but his memory ought to be gratefully remembered, for in response to his representation and that of the King, Pope Nicholas V. issued his bull, on 7th January 1450-1451, by which he erected the University, ordaining that it should flourish in all time to come, as well in theology and canon and civil law as in the arts and every lawful faculty, and that the doctors, masters, readers, and students might there enjoy all the liberties, honours, exemptions, and immunities granted by the Apostolic see to the doctors, masters, and students in the University of Bologna. He gave the power to confer degrees and make licentiates—an important recognition in those days, for it brought the influence of the Church on the side of schools of learning, and gave universal European validity to the degrees so conferred.[68] The Bishop of Glasgow was the patron and head of the University of Glasgow, which was thus founded forty years after that of St. Andrews, and forty years before that of Aberdeen. The next prelate, Bishop Andrew Muirhead (1455-1473) took an important part in the State affairs of the period, and as far as his work in the cathedral is concerned, built the hall of the choral vicars. It is situated between the two buttresses at the west end of the north aisle of the choir, and is a low building now roofed with flags. It was called the "aula vicariorum chori," and was built as an accommodation for the vicars choral, whose duties were to serve and sing in the choir. They were formed into a college by Bishop Muirhead, were originally twelve in number, but were afterwards increased to eighteen, and were aided by boy choristers. Archbishop Eyre thinks that this building on the north side of the cathedral was the early song-school of the church, which passed into the hands of the college of vicars choral, and was a hall for their business meetings and musical practice, the second storey being probably their reading-room, or the sleeping-place of the sacristan, who was required to sleep in the church.[69]

Robert Blacader (1484-1508) was high in favour with King James IV., and was one of the embassy sent to England to arrange the marriage of the Scottish monarch with the daughter of Henry VII. James had previously sought consolation under the Bishop's care, enrolled himself as a prebendary in the cathedral, and in person attended as a member of the cathedral-chapter. The King was always favourable to Glasgow, and did not desire the see to be subordinate to that of St. Andrews. He urged upon the Pope that the pallium should be granted to the Bishop of Glasgow, whose cathedral, he urged, "surpasses the other cathedral churches of my realm by its structure, its learned men, its foundation, its ornaments, and other very noble prerogatives." A bull was granted in 1491-1492 by Pope Innocent VIII. in which he declared the see to be metropolitan, and appointed the bishops of Dunkeld, Dunblane, Galloway, and Argyll to be its suffragans.[70] Blacader was the first Archbishop of Glasgow, and beautified his cathedral by building or adorning the fine rood-screen which separates the nave from the choir[71] by founding altarages and erecting two altars in front of the rood-screen, on both of which his arms and initials are carved.[72] He built also the decorated flights of steps from the aisles of the nave to the choir, and partly erected the building in continuation of the south transept, called Blacader's aisle, but it was never carried higher than the ground storey or crypt.[73] It is also known as Fergus's aisle.[74] Archbishop Blacader was the last to add to the cathedral, and there is reason to believe that his addition occupies the site of the cemetery consecrated by St. Ninian, and thus the earliest consecration and the latest building effort are identified with the same spot.[75]

Glasgow, like Elgin, Aberdeen, and Brechin, possessed originally two western towers, but at Glasgow, grievously and unfortunately, the south-west tower was removed in 1845, and the north-west one in 1848 by the Restoration Committee. They were venerable in their antiquity, and were probably built after the completion of the nave and aisles, if not at the same time. Evidence showed "that probably the north-west tower was part of the original design, or if not, that its erection was resolved on before the north aisle was completed, and it was built before the west window of the north aisle required to be glazed. The south-west tower was probably of the same date."[76] The latter was best known as the consistory house, and was the place where the bishops held their ecclesiastical courts and the diocesan records were kept. The only comfort amid the demolition of the towers is that the proposed new ones were not erected in their place; and better counsel ought to have prevailed, since Mr. Billings described the removal as an act of barbarism. "All who now see the grand old building, shorn of its cathedral features, and made like a large parish church, mock and laugh at the action of the local committee, saying, "These men had two towers, and they went and pulled them both down.""[77]

The higher church had twenty-four altars or chapels;[78] the lower church, commonly but incorrectly called the crypt, had six altars;[79] the high altar occupied the usual place, was dedicated to St. Kentigern, had a wooden canopy or tabernacle work over it, and in front of it, on the right-hand side, was the bishop's throne.[80] When it is recalled that the cathedral possessed these thirty altars or chapels (most of them beautiful works of art), thirty-two canons, college of choral vicars, with other assistants, one can well understand the great, almost dangerous power which the "Spiritual Dukedom" possessed, and the dread, felt even by its own chapter, when it was first proposed to make the bishopric into an archbishopric, for they regarded the movement as conferring too much power on the bishop.[81] A conception of the archbishop's power may be formed by recalling that the archdeaconry of Glasgow contained the following deaneries—Nycht, Nith, or Dumfries, with 31 parishes, besides 2 in Annandale and 8 in Galloway; Annandale, 28 parishes, besides 8 in Eskdale; Kyle, 17 parishes; Cunningham, 15; Carrick, 9; Lennox, 17; Rutherglen, 34; Lanark or Clydesdale, 25; Peebles or Stobo, 19; the archdeaconry of Teviotdale, 36 parishes.[82] Besides the prelates already mentioned there were, as the direct successors of Blacader, James Beaton (1508-1522), afterwards Archbishop of St. Andrews; Gavin Dunbar (1524-1547); James Beaton, the last Roman Catholic archbishop, who at the Reformation retired to France with the writs of the see, which were deposited, by his directions, partly in the archives of the Scots College, and partly in the Chartreuse of Paris, and have been since published by the Maitland Club.[83] Among the Protestant archbishops space will only permit us recording the names of John Spottiswood (1612-1615) and Robert Leighton (1671-1674).[84]

Glasgow has passed through the various stages of burgh, burgh of barony, burgh of regality, city, royal burgh, and county of a city.[85] But it grew under the protection of the Church, for as David I. granted to Bishop John of St. Andrews the site of the burgh of that name, so William the Lion granted to Bishop Joceline of Glasgow the right to have a burgh in Glasgow, with all the freedoms and customs which any royal burgh in Scotland possessed.[86] Glasgow thus owed its existence to the Church, under whose fostering care it developed for centuries, and the ruling ecclesiastic elected the provost, magistrates, and councillors. Its motto still is "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word," and its seal emblems have been thus interpreted: "The employment of these four emblems (fish, bird, tree, bell) in connection with St. Kentigern was meant to convey that he was sent as a fisher of men, that his work from small beginnings grew to very large dimensions, 'like to a grain of mustard-seed, ... which is the least indeed of all seeds, but when it is grown up ... becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof'; and that his name and fame became so great that he was heard of everywhere. 'Verily their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the whole world.'"[87]

The most beautiful features of the exterior are pronounced to be the doorways, especially those of the lower church,[88] the vaulting of which was said by Sir Gilbert Scott to contain nowhere two compartments in juxtaposition which are alike.[89] It has been suggested that the motive of the architect was to reproduce, as nearly as circumstances permitted, the plan of Solomon's Temple, and the arrangement corresponds exactly.[90] The beauty of the lower church is much obscured by the dark stained glass in the windows, and it is matter for regret that this masterpiece of design and wonderful variety of effect[91] are not more visible.

"The plan of the cathedral," says Mr. Honeyman, "is remarkably compact, and the exterior is symmetrical and harmonious. The best points of view are from the north-east and the south-east. From either of these points the full height of the structure is seen, and that is sufficiently great to give the building a dignified and impressive effect, the height from the ground-level to the apex of the choir gable being 115 feet. The well-proportioned short transept breaks the monotony of the long clerestory, without unduly hiding it, as transepts with more projections do. The gable of the choir, with its four lancets, rises picturesquely over the double eastern aisles, while the sombre keep-like mass of the chapter-house adds a romantic element to the effect of the whole composition, which culminates gracefully in the lofty spire. The pervading characteristic is simplicity, and the effect solemnising. Sir Walter Scott, with his usual quick perception of character in buildings, as well as in man, puts an admirable reference to these salient points into the mouth of Andrew Fairservice, who exclaims, 'Ah! it's a brave kirk; nane o' yer whigmaleeries an' curliwurlies, an' open-steek hems about it.' It may, indeed, be called severe, but not tame."[92] Internally the cathedral has a nave of eight bays, with side aisles; transepts, not projecting beyond the aisles; a choir of five bays, with side aisles and an aisle at the east end, with chapels beyond it. At the north-east corner of the choir is the sacristy or vestiarium; below it is the chapter-house, with an entrance from the lower church; on the south side of the church, as a continuation of the transept, is another low church or crypt, called "Blacader's Aisle"; on the north side are the foundations of a large chapel. Over the crossing rise the tower and spire, 217 feet high. The church within is 283 feet long by 61 feet broad.[93]

The history of the cathedral is closely connected with many of the stirring events in Scottish history. King Edward prostrated himself before its altar; Robert the Bruce within it received absolution, "while the Red Cumyn's blood was scarce yet dry upon his dagger"; and within its walls was held the Glasgow Assembly of 1638, when the Episcopate was abolished, and the Presbyterian government was restored. Robert Leighton has preached within its choir, in his low, sweet voice, and with those angelic strains of eloquence and devotion which lingered in the memory of his hearers to their dying day.


Dunkeld is situated amid lovely scenery, and was from the earliest times a religious centre. The name means fort of the Culdees. After the destruction of Iona by the Norsemen in the beginning of the ninth century, Dunkeld became the seat of the Columban authority in Scotland, and part of the relics of St. Columba were brought here by King Kenneth Macalpine in 850. Its abbot was named Bishop of Fortreum, but in 865 the primacy was transferred to Abernethy, and thence to St. Andrews in 908. One of the lay abbots at Dunkeld married a daughter of Malcolm II., and through the influence of their descendants the religious order in Scotland was changed. Emerging as great secular chiefs, these lay abbots weakened, if they did not destroy, the ecclesiastical foundation. The bishopric was revived by Alexander I. in 1107, and prior to the thirteenth century was not confined to Atholl, but extended to the western sea, and included the districts stretching along its shores from the Firth of Clyde to Lochbroom, and forming the province of Argyll.[94] The western part was separated about 1200, and formed into a new bishopric, termed first that of Argyll, and afterward that of Lismore.[95] Cormac, the Culdee abbot, was the first bishop under the new order, and among his successors may be mentioned Bishop Sinclair (1312-1338), the friend of Bruce, and a "man of courage, the champion of the Church, and the brave defender of the constitution of the kingdom";[96] Bishop Lauder (1452-1476), who filled the see "with unfading honour,"[97] and built a bridge across the Tay, as well as adorned the cathedral; George Brown (1485-1514), who divided the see into four deaneries, procured Gaelic preachers,[98] promoted clerical efficiency, enlarged the palace at Dunkeld, and built the castle of Cluny;[99] Gavin Douglas (1516-1522), "a noble, learned, worthy bishop,"[100] who translated the AEneid into Scots verse, and thus

in a barbarous age, Gave to rude Scotland Virgil's page.

The diocese had four deaneries: (1) Atholl and Drumalbane, with 47 parishes; (2) Angus, with 5; (3) Fife, Fotherick, and Stratherne, with 7; (4) South Forth, with 7.[101]

Canon Myln's quaint Lives of the Bishops of Dunkeld professes to give an account of the building of the cathedral, and it appears that the existing structure is chiefly of the fifteenth century.[102] It consists of an aisleless choir, a nave with two aisles, a north-west tower, and a chapter-house to the north of the choir. It appears that the different parts of the structure were begun at the dates given by Abbot Myln, but were not completed until some time afterwards.[103] All are Third Pointed in style except the choir, which retains some scanty portions of First Pointed work. The following are given as the approximate dates of the original construction: choir (1318-1400); nave (1406-1465); chapter-house (1457-1465); tower (1469-1501).

The episcopal palace was a little south-west of the cathedral, which contained many valuable ornaments and vessels, a painted reredos, and in its great tower two large bells, named St. George and St. Colm (Columba). At the Reformation in 1560, the cathedral suffered the common fate of most of such structures, although Argyll and Ruthven, in requiring the lairds of Airntully and Kinvaid "to purge the kirk of all kinds of monuments of idolatry," requested them also "to tak good heid that neither the desks, windocks, nor doors be onyways hurt or broken, either glassin work or iron work." The closing injunction was not observed, and the roofs were also demolished. In 1600 the choir was re-roofed, and is the present parish church. But the ruins still speak of the former grandeur of this old church-town, and perhaps a like day may yet dawn for Dunkeld, as has been seen at Dunblane.


The earliest ecclesiastical history of Aberdeen is connected with St. Machar (a disciple of St. Columba), who preached the Gospel among the Northern Picts and settled on the banks of the Don, founding there both a Christian colony and a church, which, from its situation, was called the Church of Aberdon. Another band of Columban missionaries established themselves in the sequestered vale of the Fiddich, at Morthlac, and in the beginning of the twelfth century the "Monastery of Morthlach" possessed five dependent churches.[104] The tradition that there was a bishopric at Murthlack or Morthlach is not founded on reliable evidence, and is discredited by Dr. Cosmo Innes[105] and Dr. Skene.[106] What David I. did was to graft on the Culdee monastery of St. Machar the chapter of a new diocese, and in this manner the bishopric was founded before 1150, and endowed with old Culdee possessions, among others with the "Monastery of Morthlach" and its five churches.[107] The third bishop, Matthew de Kininmond, began to build a cathedral between 1183 and 1199 to supersede the primitive church then existing,[108] "which (new building), because it was not glorious enough, Bishop Cheyne threw down."[109] The second edifice was begun by Bishop Cheyne about 1282, and the work was interrupted by the Scottish war with Edward I. during the bishop's absence in temporary banishment. "The king (Bruce) seeing the new cathedral he had begun, made the church to be built with the revenues of the bishopric."[110] The cathedral thus built was thrown down in turn by Bishop Alexander Kininmond, who succeeded in 1355 and began the present cathedral about 1366. "Of his operations there remain two large piers for the support of the central tower, which form the earliest portion of the structure of St. Machar's now remaining."[111] The dean and chapter (of which Barbour, the father of Scottish poetry, was a member) taxed themselves for the fabric in sixty pounds annually for ten years; the bishop surrendered revenues worth about twice that sum; the Pope in 1380 made a grant of indulgences to all who should help the work. All these appliances but availed to raise the foundations of the nave a few feet above ground.[112] Forty years elapsed before Bishop Leighton (1422-1440) completed the wall of the nave, founded the northern transept, and reared the two western towers.[113] Bishop Lindsay (1441-1459) paved and roofed the cathedral; it was glazed by Bishop Spens (1459-1480). Bishop Elphinstone (1487-1514), who founded King's College in 1500, and who was "the most distinguished of all who ever filled the episcopal chair," ... and possessed "manners and temperance in his own person, befitting the primitive ages of Christianity,"[114] adorned the cathedral. He built the great central tower and wooden spire, provided the great bells, and covered the roofs of nave, aisles, and transept with lead.[115] This central tower was four storey high, and square, and had two battlements and fourteen bells; it was a noted landmark to mariners at sea.[116] Bishop Gavin Dunbar (1519-1531) built the southern transept, added spires to Leighton's towers, and constructed at his own "pains and expenses" the flat ceiling of oak, which still remains with the heraldries of the Pope, the Emperor, St. Margaret, the kings and princes of Christendom, the bishops and the earls of Scotland. Bishop Elphinstone began to rebuild the choir, but it never seems to have been finished. Alluding to 1560, Orme says, "The glorious structure of said cathedral church, being near nine score years in building, did not remain twenty entire, when it was almost ruined by a crew of sacrilegious church robbers."[117] The ruins of the choir have been entirely removed; of the transepts only the foundations now remain, the architecture being destroyed by the fall of the central tower in 1688. The nave is nearly perfect, and is used as the parish church. The west front, except the spires, is entirely built with granite, and is regarded as one of the most impressive and imposing structures in Scotland,[118] and as stately in the severe symmetry of its simple design.[119] There is a remarkable entrance doorway, the jambs being mere rounds and hollows, with a flat stone laid along at the springing of the round arch. Above the doorway are seven lofty narrow windows, crowned each with a round and cusped arch, and forming a striking feature of the whole. The clerestory windows are narrow and round arched, without any moulding, while the aisle windows are filled with the simplest tracery. East of the cathedral was the bishop's palace (1470), "a large and fair court, having a high tower at each of its four corners";[120] to the south stood the deanery. Aberdeen was created a city or bishop's see by King David,[121] and the diocese contained five deaneries, with 94 parishes.


Previously to Elgin, the see was successively at Birnay, Kinnedor, and Spyny, but without a proper cathedral.[122] Alexander I., shortly after his accession in 1107, founded the bishopric, but it was not till the time of Bricius, the sixth Bishop of Moray, who filled that position from 1203 to 1222, that the bishops had any fixed residence in the diocese.[123] When Bricius became bishop in 1203, he fixed his cathedral at Spyny, founded a chapter of eight secular canons, and gave to his church a constitution founded on the usage of Lincoln, which he ascertained by a mission to England.[124] Andrew de Moravia succeeded him in 1222, and in his time (1224) the transference of the episcopal see and the cathedral of the diocese to Elgin was effected, which had probably been designed and solicited by his predecessor.[125] This bishop probably built the cathedral church, munificently endowed it, increased the number of prebends to twenty-three, of which he held one, and sat as a canon in the chapter.[126] The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was founded in 1224, on the site of an older church with the same dedication, and the work proceeded under Bishop Andrew's supervision during the eighteen remaining years of his life.[127] The Register of the see shows us "Master Gregory the mason and Richard the glazier" at work in autumn 1237.[128] Of the building itself probably now little is left, for it is recorded by Fordun under the year 1270 that the Cathedral of Elgin and the houses of the canons were burnt, but whether by accident or design he does not add. The ruins now standing probably date from a subsequent period, when there was raised the stately building, of which Bishop Alexander Bur wrote to the king that it was "the pride of the land, the glory of the realm, the delight of wayfarers and strangers, a praise and boast among foreign nations, lofty in its towers without, splendid in its appointments within, its countless jewels and rich vestments, and the multitude of its priests, serving God in righteousness."[129] This description is taken from a letter addressed to King Robert III., complaining that on the feast of St. Botolph, in 1390, the king's own brother, the Earl of Buchan, popularly known as the "Wolf of Badenoch," had descended from the hills with a band of wild Scots, and burned a considerable part of the town of Elgin, St. Giles Church, the Maison Dieu, the manses of the clergy, and the cathedral itself. The bishop appealed for aid and reparation, and the "Wolf of Badenoch" was compelled to yield, but, on condition that he should make satisfaction to the bishop and church of Moray and obtain absolution from the Pope, he was absolved by the Bishop of St. Andrews in the Blackfriars Church at Perth. Notwithstanding his age and feebleness, Bishop Bur energetically pressed on the restoration of the cathedral, and it was continued by Bishops Spynie (1397-1406) and Innes (1406-1421), and even then it was not completed. It thus occupied many years, even though it was promoted by grants of the royal favour, by a third part of the whole revenues of the see being devoted to it for a time, and by yearly subsidies being levied on every benefice in a diocese stretching "from the Ness to the Deveron, from the sea to the passes of Lochaber and the central mountains that divide Badenoch and Athol."[130] Early in the sixteenth century the central tower showed signs of weakness, and had to be rebuilt in 1538. It fell in 1711, destroying the nave and transepts.[131]

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