4 March ~ St. Adrian

Adrian was a later missionary of the Celtic Church, martyred on the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth near the end of the ninth century. Perhaps Adrian, said to have been a young disciple of Acca of Hexham, was involved in the fighting which accompanied the final downfall of Pictish power. The historian Skene has attempted to disentangle the strands of this obscure story which ends with the invasion of the Danes, their descent on the Isle of May and the martyrdom of Adrian and his followers in 875.

Adrian has been credited with some of the remarkable cave carvings found along the mainland shore opposite the island. At the opposite end of Fife, in the corner where Perthshire and Fife meet, we find a group of place-names reminding us of this unfortunate missionary. In dron parish is Exmagirdle (ecclesia Magirdle) with a ruined chapel. At Abernathy stand two large crosses, one of which is known as Mugdrum Cross, probably named after Adrian, and along the estuary of the Tay at Flisk a group of stones is called St. Muggin’s Seat. So if his traditions have any historical substance it is to north Fife as well as to the Isle of May that we should look for traces of his work.

G.A.F. Knight, Archaeological Light on the Early Christianising of Scotland, 1933

1 Comment

  1. How do you associate St Aiden with Exmagirdle? Is not Exmagirdle more likely to be associated with Gridle (an obscure follower of St Columba)?

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