Association with a Saint’s name

For Class 2 Stones, the locations on this map show where there are Saint associations:-

For clarity and detail see the attached map.

Whilst an association with a Saint seems to add importance to a Symbol Stone’s location it is difficult to determine whether that relationship is with the Stone, a co-located church or both.

Some churches in Pictland have been “founded” (with physical presence) by people who were either established or recently became a Saint. Many more churches were “dedicated” to well known Saints after their death – in way of veneration. For very well known Saints (e.g. Columba, Peter & Martin) we have much information, for others limited or no understanding (e.g. Medan & Orland). An added consideration is that our modern view of a Saint and what prevailed in Pictish times is different – seemingly the local clergyman was sometimes referred to as Saint.

It is, arguably, more correct to refer to an association being with a Saint’s “name” rather than a Saint as such.

Relevance between Saints and Stones can be unclear – such as St Medan with Kingoldrum (there were male and female versions of this Saint but in different time periods) and St Boniface with Tealing (the church was dedicated to St Peter but seemingly founded by St Boniface).

There are two instances of Stones not near a church but with Saint associations – Balluderon (also known as St Martin’s Stone) and Cossans (the so-called St Orland’s Stone) – the reasons for these particular associations are uncertain but, clearly, are between a Stone and a Saint and not a church.

Although prospective connections across Saints, Stones and churches can be tenuous, overall a perceived association with a Saint appears to be more with a Stone than with a church.

A significant outcome of looking into associations between names of Saints and specific Class 2 Stones was a dating prospect for relevant Stones – in some cases leading towards timeframes.

Highlights from Association with a Saint – a dating prospect? PDF include:-

  • Some of the supposed Stone / Saint associations being very much time displaced. For example, the Monifieth Stones and St Regulus. He was the 4th century monk or bishop of Patras, Greece who is said to have fled to Scotland in 345 with the bones of St Andrew and given them to King Óengus 1. However, this king was in power from 732 to 761 – beyond the Saint’s lifetime by nearly 400 years!
  • The need for care in interpreting material such as at Dyce where there may be an 8th century association with St Fergus but the style of the Cross with “Stafford Knots” allegedly dates the Symbol Stone to the Anglo-Saxon 7th century period.

Overall, an association with a Saint to a date for a Class 2 Stone covers the period from the 5th to 7th century. Clear, dateable examples for Stones serving in way of “transition” between Mithraic and Christian beliefs with the reinforcement of an association of a Saint include the Alyth Stone and St Moluag combination. If the Stone was carved in St Moluag’s lifetime or soon after then it dates to the late 6th / early 7th century. In the case of the Fordoun Stone and St Palladius – if the association with the Saint was in his lifetime then this tends to date this Stone to the 5th century maybe marking a relatively early attempt to transition from a Pictish-Mithraic belief. Perhaps for these locations a move from outdoors to indoors worship took place with the belief transition.

Expanding from the theme of a Saint association with some Class 2 Stones, this author wondered if there were monasteries, abbeys or other religious foundations whose setting up might have prompted the use of Class 2 Stones to facilitate the move in belief to Christianity – again leading to a “dating” prospect. These themes are further explored in Class 2 Stones – prospective dating.