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Notes on the Early History of Scotland
Bede's Ecclesiastical History - Part 2


Interpolations in Bede's Ecclesiastical History and Other Ancient Annals
Affecting the early history of Scotland and Ireland

PALLADIUS’ MISSION.

In the thirteenth chapter of Book I. these words occur: " Palladius was sent by Celestinus, the Roman Pontiff, to the Scots that believed in Christ, to be their first bishop." This passage, although it rather favours our view of the subject at issue, for the Scots there mentioned ought to be taken for those spoken of in the twelfth chapter, appears to be an interpolation, at least in the form in which it is given in Bede’s work. There is no evidence to show that the Romish Church was acknowledged by the Scots at this time, or that they had any bishops over them till the twelfth century. The notice of this event, as it appears in the Saxon Chronicle, is less objectionable. It reads thus: " 430. This year Palladius, the bishop, was sent to the Scots by Pope Celestinus, that he might confirm their faith." Another manuscript has: " 430. This year Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine to preach baptism to the Scots." Ethelwerd has: "Bishop Palladius is sent by the holy Pope Celestinus to preach the gospel of Christ to the Scots." This passage is varied and extended in such a way that it requires to be separately treated in speakimig of the authors’ works in which it appears. If it is to be accepted as a genuine record of an event that really took place, it is certain that it refers to the inhabitants of North Britain, for Henry of Huntingdon and Ordericus Vitallis both copy it without note or comment: and these authors lived when Scots is allowed by every writer to have been the name for the inhabitants of Scotland only.

A WRONG RENDERING.

The following sentence occurs in the fonrteenth chapter: "The Irish robbers thereupon returned home, in order to come again soon after." As usual, this is copied into Huntingdon’s work thus: "The Scots returned with shame to Ireland" (Hibernia). That this is a wrong rendering of the word, perhaps purposely done, is evident from the translation of the same passage as given in Bohn’s translation of Gildas’ work, thus: "The audacious invaders therefore return to their winter quarters, determined before long again to return and plunder." Marianus Scotus, a native of present Scotland, as has been already stated, [Ireland not the Hibernia of the Ancients, p. 29.] in relating the actions of the Picts and Scots in the same expedition, says: "Scoti Revertunum Domum," instead of the word Hiberni, used by Gildas and Bede. Ordericus Vitallis follows Marianus, saying: "The Scots returned to their homes." Florence of Worcester has: "The Scots retreated to their own country," Arid neither Ethelwerd nor Malmesbury say anything to support the translation in the Ecclesiastical History and Huntingdon’s work.

ETHELFRITH's BATTLE WITH AEDAN.

In the last chapter of Book I. of the Ecclesiastical History, it is said that Etheifrith, king of the Northumbrians, defeated " AEdan, king of the Scots that inhabit Britain," It would be unnecessary to notice this passage were it not fixed upon by some writers as showing that Bede added the words "that inhabit Britain," to distinguish these Scots from those who inhabited Ireland. Let us therefore see how it has been treated by his successors. Henry of Huntingdon, as usual, gives the passage in the same words. Florence of Worcester and William of Malmesbury, other two writers, not altogether above suspicion, refer to the battle, but leave out the words: "that inhabit Britain," after the Scots. The earliest extant manuscript of the Saxon Chronicle has only these words referring to the same battle : "603. This year there was a battle at Egesanstane." A later manuscript has: "603. This year AEthan, king of the Scots, fought against the Dalreods and against Etheifrith, king of the Northumbrians, at Daegsanstane.... Since then no king of the Scots has dared to lead an army against this nation." Ethelwerd takes no notice of this battle, although he closely follows the Saxon Chronicle in other instances, and copies the two preceding and the two following entries in it. This, taken along with Roger of Wendover’s silence regarding this battle, is significant; the more so, as he speaks of Ethelfrith, the king of the Northumbrians, fighting a battle with the Britons at Caerlegion, in the same year in which the battle with the Scots is said to have taken place. In addition to these circumstances, the chapter in the Ecclesiastical History, in which the battle with AEdan is described, repeats the word English three or four times, and this is not in favour of its being the work of Bede’s hands.

LAURENTIUS AND THE SCOTS.

The fourth chapter of the Second book of the Ecelesiastical History is entitled: "Laurentius and his bishops admonish the Scots to observe the unity of the Holy Church, particularly in the keeping of Easter; Melitus goes to Rome." It begins:—

"Laurentius succeeded Augustine in the bishopric, having been ordained thereto by the latter in his lifetime, lest, upon his death, the state of the Church, as yet unsettled, might. begin to falter, if it should be destitute of a pastor.... He (Laurentius) not only took care of the new church formed among the English, but endeavoured also to employ his pastoral solicitude among the ancient inhabitants of Britain, as also the Scots, who inhabit the island of Ireland, which is next to Britain. For when he understood that the course of life and profession of the Scots in their aforesaid country, as well as of the Britons in Britain, was not truly ecclesiastical,"

He and his fellow-bishops wrote to them

The beginning of which epistle is as follows:—’ To our most dear brothers, the lords, bishops, and abbats throughout all Scotland, Laurentius, Melitus, and Justus...... We held both the Britons and Scots in great esteem for sanctity, believing that they had proceeded according to the custom of the universal Church; but coming acquainted with the errors of the Britons, we thought the Scots had been better; but we have been informed . . . that the Scots in no way differ from the Britons.’"

It is almost needless to say that this is all given in Henry of Huntingdon’s History, with the remarkable exception of the words: "who inhabit the island of Ireland, which is next to Britain." Why these words are omitted in his work, it is impossible to say, for they entirely alter the meaning of the whole passage. Appearing in a work written in the twelfth century, without the words quoted, or any reference to make the chapter apply to inhabitants of Ireland, it could only be taken as referring to the Scots as inhabitants of present Scotland. That the most of this chapter is an interpolation is shown by the following facts. The Saxon Chronicle, Florence of Worcester, and William of Malmesbury, all speak of Laurentius, but they take no notice of his connection with the Scots. Roger of Wendover does likewise, and it is significant to find him giving the opening sentence of this chapter in almost the very words of Bede; and then going on to describe Melitus’ visit to Rome, as given at the end of the chapter. His omission of all reference to the Scots here clearly manifests that the passages qnoted above were not in Bede’s original work.

POPE HONORIUS AND THE SCOTS.

The nineteenth chapter of Book II. is of the same character as the one which has just been analysed. It states that: " Pope Honorius wrote to the Scots, whom he had found to err in the observance of Easter....Likewise John, who succeeded Severinus, successor to the same Honorius, being yet but Pope elect, sent to them letters..... correcting the same error."

This chapter is found in Huntingdon also, especially the words quoted, but they are just copied into his work as they stand in the Ecclesiastical History, so that had Huntingdon written them he would have intended them to apply to men living on the north of the Forth. Florence of Worcester, another interpolated writer, also copies the words quoted. The Saxon Chronicle says, under the year 627: " Archbishop Justus died,.... and Honorius was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury by Paulinus at Lincoln. And to this Honorius the Pope, also sent a pall: and he sent a letter to the Scots, desiring that they should turn to the right Easter." Neither Ethelwerd nor Malmesbury take any notice of this. Wendover does, however, but his slight agreement with the Saxon Chronicle, and disagreement with the Ecclesiastical History, enables us to estimate the worth of this chapter. Of the preceding chapter, the eighteenth, Wendover copies the substance of these words: "Archbishop Justus was taken up to the heavenlv kingdom, and Honorius was elected to the see in his stead." This is just what the Saxon Chronicle has, with the exception of the record of the Pope’s writing to the Scots, which finds no place in Wendover’s work. In fact, of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth chapters of the Ecclesiastical History, which all contain some reference to Pope Honorius, as well as to the archbishop of the same name, Wendover only gives the words last quoted; and he takes no notice of this Pope Honorius or of Pope John, but implies that there were no such popes at that time, as may be seen by comparing his notice of the popes under the years 614 and 621. Is this not an instance of transferring the events of a later period to an earlier, to support claims which had no real foundation ? The following scrap of thirteenth century history leads to this conclusion: " Pope Honorius, listening to the request of the king of Scotland, who had forwarded copies of King John’s letters to the Pope, transmitted a full confirmation of all the liberties of the Scottish Church in the year 1219." [Robertson's Scotland, under her Early Kings, vol. ii. p, 10.]

THE REAL SCOTS AND THE FICTITIOUS SCOTS.

The first chapter of Book Ill, contains the following words :—

"All the time that Edwin reigned the sons of the aforesaid Ethelfrith, who had reigned before him, with many of the nobility, lived in banishment among the Scots or Picts, and were there instructed according to the doctrine of the Scots, and received the grace of baptism."

The third chapter, which it will be better to consider along with the first, is entitled: "The same king Oswald, asking a bishop of the Scottish nation, had Aidan sent him," &c. It then goes on to say:—

"The same Oswald, as soon as he ascended the throne, being desirous that all his nation should receive the Christian faith,..... sent to the elders of the Scots, among whom himself and his followers, when in banishment, had received the sacrament of baptism, desiring they would send him a bishop They sent him Bishop Aidan. . . . He was wont to keep Easter Sunday according to the custom of his country,.... the northern province of the Scots and all the nation of the Picts celebrating Easter then after that manner. . . But the Scots who dwelt in the south of Ireland had long since, by the admonition of the bishop of the apostolic see, learned to observe Easter according to the canonical custom. On the arrival of the bishop the king appointed him his episcopal see in the isle of Lindisfarne...... When the bishop, who was not skilful in the English tongue, preached the gospel, it was most delightful to see the king himself interpreting the Word of God to his commanders and ministers, for he had perfectly learned the language of the Scots during his long banishment. From that time many of the Scots came daily into Britain, and with great devotion preached the Word to those provinces of the English over which king Oswald reigned..... The English, great and small, were, by their Scottish masters, instructed in the rules and observance of regular discipline..... Bishop Aidan was himself a monk of the island called Hii, whose monastery was for a long time the chief of almost all those of the northern Scots, and all those of the Picts, and had the direction of their people. That island belongs to Britain, being divided from it by a small arm of the sea, but had been long since given by the Picts, who inhabit those parts of Britain, to the Scottish monks, because they had received the faith of Christ through their preaching."

These passages, including the words about the Scots dwelling in the south of Ireland, are copied into Huntingdon’s work, with these important exceptions. He says that "Oswald sent into Scotia or Scotland where he had been exiled," and "some monks corning from Scotland zealously taught the people." This is an unmistakeable indication that Scotia and Ireland were names of different countries at that time, for, had it been otherwise, Huntingdon would have said so, but throughout the whole of his History he never affirms that Ireland was called Scotia.

The passage about Scots in Ireland in the above quotation is of course not genuine. It is remarkable to find that there is not a word of all this, which has just been quoted from the Ecclesiastical History, in the Saxon Chronicle or in Ethelwerd. With reference to the same events Florence of Worcester merely says: "King Oswald applied to the elders of the Scots to send him bishops. Aidan was sent: by whom, and the most illustrious and holy king Oswald himself, the Church of Christ was first founded and established in the pronnce of Bernicia." Malmesbury endorses the information about the sons of Ethelfrith being baptised in Scotland, and king Oswald interpreting .Aidan’s Scotch to his people only. Wendover does likewise, and also endorses the words of Huntingdon about Oswald sending into Scotland for a bishop. None of these last three writers, however, say anything about Scots in Ireland in connection with this subject.

COLUMBA AN ICELANDIC SAINT.

The next chapter of the Ecclesiastical History, the fourth, also requires examination. It states that:—

"There came into Britain a famous priest and abbat, a monk by habit and life, whose name was Columba, to preach the Word of God to the provinces of the northern Picts,..... for the southern Picts, . . . . as is reported, had long before forsaken the errors of idolatry, and embraced the truth by the preaching of Ninias,...Whose episcopal see, named after St Martin the Bishop, and famous for a stately church,....is still in existence among the English nation. The place belongs to the province of the Bernicians, and is generally called the White House (Candida Casa), because he there built a church of stone, which was not usual among the Britons. Columba came into Britain in the ninth year of the reign of Bridius..... Before he passed over into Britain he had built a noble monastery in Ireland, which, from the great number of oaks, is in the Scottish tongue called Dearmach..... From both which monasteries many others had their beginnings through his disciples, both in Britain and Ireland; but the monastery in the island where his body lies is the principal of them all. That island has for its ruler an abbat, who is a priest, to whose direction all the province, and even the bishops, contrary to the usual method, are subject."

it is necessary to repeat that all this is found in Huntingdon, with the alteration of Columba’s burial- place, which is said to be at St Ninian’s see, the White House. Let us see, however, what support the other authorities give to this account.

The Saxon Chronicle has:-

Columba, a mass-priest, came to the Picts, and converted them to the faith of Christ. . . . And their king gave him the island which is called Ii. . . . There Columba built a monastery.... The southern Picts had been baptised long before: Bishop Ninia, who had been instructed at Rome, had preached baptism to them, whose church and his monastery is at Whitherne, consecrated in the name of St Martin: there he resteth with many holy men. Now in Ii there must ever be an abbot, and not a bishop; and all the Scottish bishops ought to be subject to him, because Columba was not a bishop." Another manuscript of the Saxon Chronicle has: "Columba the presbyter came from the Scots among the Britons, to instruct the Picts, and he built a monastery in the island of Hii."

Ethelwerd has: "Columba came from Scotia to Britain, to preach the Word of God to the Picts."

Florence of Worcester endorses the account in the Ecclesiastical History, and in Huntingdon, about Columba coming from Ireland.

Wendover says: " St Columbanus came from Scotland into Britain, and was greatly renowned."

Malmesbury takes no notice of Columba, nor of Ninias.

It is noticeable here in the first instance that Henry of Huntingdon’s History, Florence of Worcester’s Annals, and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, all agree in representing Ireland or Hibernia as the country from which Columba came to Britain. This is what might have been expected, as all these three works appear to have been interpolated for the purpose of obscuring the early history of Scotland. But the information they contain on this point is nullified by what is said on the same subject by other annalists writing about the same period. Neither the Saxon Chronicle, nor Ethelwerd, nor Roger of Wendover, give any countenance to the statement that Columba came from Ireland. The first says he came from the Scots and settled among the Britons. Ethelwerd and Roger of Wendover both say that he came from Scotia to Britain. it might be urged by the supporters of the Ireland-Scotia theory that Scotia was the name of Ireland in the time of Ethelwerd, but this would not stand the test of examination. Ethelwerd does not say that such was the case, and throughout the whole of his annals he gives evidence that the only Scots and Scotia he knew of were to the north of the Forth. In addition to this he distinctly says that Ireland was formerly called Bretannis. No such objection can be urged against Roger of Wendover’s plain statement. He wrote at a time when Scotia is allowed by all historians to have been the well— known name of thecountry north of the Forth, and of it only. Besides, he was well acquainted with Bede’s History. If such statements as these quoted above, regarding Columba, had been in it when Wendover wrote his annals, is it possible to believe that he would have said that Columba came from Scotia to Britain, without explaining that Ireland was called Scotia in Columba’s time, if such had been the case? It is somewhat remarkable that Malmesbury takes no notice of Columba, nor even of Ninian. He was also thoroughly versed in Bede’s History; and his omission of all notice of these saints would imply that Bede said nothing about them in his genuine work. But this is improbable. The likelihood is that he would say something about such eminent men, which was copied or abridged by all the other early annalists, including Malmesbury; and that the easiest way of dealing with Malmesbury’s notice was to delete it from his works, while Bede’s has been altered to suit the views of the manipulating monks.

In Reeves’ edition of Adamnan’s Life of St Columba, a sentence relating to the departure of Columba for Hii reads: "de Scotia ad Britanniam," A note to it says: "Venit de Hibernia . . . Columba Brittaniam— Bede H. E. III., 4. This one statement ought to have been sufficient at any time to prove where Scotia lay." Mr Reeves was a strong supporter of the Ireland—Scotia theory, and this is meant as a reproof for those persons who had doubted its truth. It is evident that he had no suspicion of the words quoted from Bede’s work being an interpolation, or of any other country but Ireland being called Hibernia. In "Ireland not the Hibernia of the Ancients," an attempt has been made to show that Iceland was also called Hibernia; and, from what has been said above regarding the passage in the Ecclesiastical History, there is good grounds for believing that it never was penned by Bede. Besides, it is stated that Columba was a native of Iceland on good authority; so that even if the passage in the Ecclesiastical History could be proved to be genuine, it might have been the ancient Hiberia, or Iceland, that he referred to when he spoke of Columba coming from there to Britain. In Olafsen and Povelsen’s Travels in Iceland," the church which was built by Orlyg at Euisberg, is said to have been dedicated to St Collomcyle, who is supposed to be the same as "Collumban, an Icelander who converted the Picts to the Christian religion in 562." [English Translation, P. 38.] Such an out of the way statement is more to be depended on than one found in the common historical highway, as it is more likely to have escaped the notice of the monks. There were at least seven churches in the Orkney Islands dedicated to St Columba; a fact which supports the statement made in Olafsen and Povelsen’s travels regarding the native country of the saint. Of course this was well known by the monks, and they took means to account for it otherwise, as all who have read Adamnan's Life know; but we hope to be able to show that this is not a genuine work either, and thus leave Columba to be claimed by the Icelanders as a countryman of theirs. It is not improbable that Columba, when he left Iceland, might land first in the country then called Scotia, that is, the northeast of present Scotland, and after staying some time there, say at Dunkeld, he might leave Scotia and settle on Inchcolm, which we hope to be able to identfy with Hii, and which then very likely belonged to the country called Britain. This would account for both Ethelwerd and Roger of Wendover saying that Columba came from Scotia to Britain.

HERMITS.

Near the end of the fourth chapter of Book III. we come across the first of a series of peculiar references to Ireland. It is as follows: "Egbert, of the English nation, who had long lived in banishment in Ireland for the sake of Christ, and was most learned in the Scriptures." In the seventh chapter of the same book the next of the series occurs. It is to this effect: "Agilbert, by nation a Frenchman, had lived a long time in Ireland, for the purpose of reading the Scriptures." Another is found in the thirteenth chapter, thus: "And that in Ireland, when being yet only a priest, he (Wilbrord) led a pilgrim’s life for love of the eternal country,’’

Henry of Huntingdon speaks of Agilbert being in Ireland and Florence of Worcester of Egbert being there. The Saxon Chronicle, though it speaks of these three worthies, takes no notice of their life in Ireland. Ethelwerd never mentions them. Florence speaks of Agilbert and Wilbrord, but never alludes to their having been in Ireland. Malmesbury takes notice only of Agilbert, but says nothing about his life in Ireland. Huntingdon mentions Egbert, as will be seen later on, but takes no notice of his life in Ireland. Wendover never mentions Egbert, but he notices Agilbert and Wilbrord, without saying anything about Ireland in connection with either.

From the way in which these passages in the Ecclesiastical History are treated by later writers, it does not seem possible that those referring to Ireland or Hibernia can he genuine. But if there were any possibility of such being the case, there is evidence to show that they refer rather to the ancient than the modern Hibernia. It is accepted as beyond doubt that Iceland, and the islands near it, were the settlements of Christian hermits at this early period. In Laing’s preface to his translation of the "Heimskringla" of Snorro, it is said:—

"The Irish (Scottish) monk, Dieuil, who wrote in 825 his work, De Mensura Orbis Terrae, published by Walckrnar, in Paris in 1828, says that for a hundred years, that is from 725, the desire for a hermit life had led many Irish Clerks (eremitae ex nostra Scottia, are the words given in Todd’s Irish Version of Nennius' Historia Britonum, p. 148, note), to the islands to the north of the British sea, which, with a fair wind, may be reached in two days’ sail from the most northerly British islands." [Preliminary Dissertation to Heimskringla by Laing, vol. i. p. 40.]

Another writer Says:—

"There was an old tradition that Papes, i.e., Christian ecelesiastics, had formerly resided there (in Iceland). It seems to be beyond doubt that, at several places on the south-eastern side, the first Norwegian settlers found traces of these ecclesiastics, such as croziers, books, &c., and that after them, two of these places got their names, the island of Papey, and the small district of Papyli. It is greatly confirmed by the indisputable authority of Dicuil; who says that some Irish (Scottish) clergymen told him that about A.D. 705, they had passed the time from February to August on an island which they believed to be Thule, where the sun at the summer solstice was but a short time below the horizon, and that it was only a day’s sail from the frozen sea. This description can hardly mean any country but Iceland, and coincides exactly with the unpretending and simple narative of the Icelandic recorders. . . . According to the oldest Icelandic writer, Ari Frodi, the Papes even continued to reside in Iceland till the arrival of the Norwegians, and left it only because they would not reside with Pagans." [Munch’s Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys, Preface, pp, 15 and 16]

The monks who tampered with Bede’s work had probably read of this somewhere, and may have inserted the passages in the Ecclesiastical History which connected Egbert, Agilbert. and Wilbrord with the only Hibernia known to most people at the time of the Reformation, that is Ireland, in order to bolster up claims which had little else but false history to support them.

THE SCOTTISH BISHOPS AND THE EASTER CONTROVERSY.

We now come to evidence that the Scotia of the Ecclesiastical History, even as the work now exists, was part of the Scotia of the present day. In the seventeenth chapter of Book III., after mentioning Aidan’s death, these words occur: " Finan, who had likewise come from the same monastery of Hii in the Scottish island, succeeded him." Four chapters further on we are informed of the death of Diuma, called "a Scot by nation," bishop of the Midland Angles and Mercians, after which these words are found: "Ceollach, of the Scottish nation, succeeded him in the bishopric. This prelate, not long after, left his bishopric, and returned to the island of Hii, which among the Scots, was the chief and head of many monasteries." The twenty-fourth chapter or the same book informs us that Diuma was "the first bishop of the Mercians. . . . The second was Ceollach, who, quitting the episcopal office whilst still alive, returned into Scotland, to which nation he belonged, as well as bishop Diuma." The twenty-fifth chapter is headed: "How the controversy arose about the time of keeping Easter, with those that came out of Scotland (Scotia)." These words occur in the chapter: "Bishop Aidan being dead, Finan, who was ordained and sent by the Scots, succeeded him in the bishopric, and built a church in the isle of Lindisfarne, the episcopal see; nevertheless, after the manner of the Scots, he made it, not of stone, but of hewn oak, and covered it with reeds..... But after the death of Finan, who succeeded him (Aidan), when Colman, who was also sent out of Scotland (Scotia), came to be bishop..... Oswy (the king) having been instructed and baptised by the Scots, and being perfectly skilled in their language." We now turn to the twenty—sixth chapter, where it is stated that " Colman... went back into Scotland (Scotia).... When Colman was gone back into his own country, God’s servant, Tuda, was made bishop of the Northumbrians..... He came out of Scoiland (Scotia) whilst Colman was yet bishop."

We may just as well consider along with these passages what is said about Colman in the fourth chapter of Book IV., although we shall see that it is only found in the Ecclesiastical History. It is entitled: "Colman, the Scottish bishop, having left Britain, built two monasteries in Scotland the one for the Scots, the other for the English he had taken along with him." It then goes on to relate how...

"Colman, the Scottish bishop, departing from Britain, took along with him all the Scots he had assembled in the isle of Lindisfarne, and also about thirty of the English nation, who had been all instructed in the monastic life; and, leaving some brothers in his church, he repaired first to the isle of Hii, whence he had been sent to preach the word of God to the English nation. Afterwards he retired to a small island which is to the west of Ireland, and at some distance from its coast, called in the language of the Scots, Innisbofinde, the Tsland of the White Heifer."

He built a monastery there and placed the monks of both nations in it, but as they disagreed, Colman found a place "in the island of Ireland, fit to build a monastery on which, in the language of the Scots, is called Mageo," where he built a monastery and placed the "English" in it. Then it is said that this monastery is " to this day possessed by English," and also that it contains monks "gathered there from the province of the English."

If this latter chapter were to he considered the genuine work of Bede, the qaotations given from the third book would be confusing. It is quoted here at some length as a sample of the clumsy way in which the monks commissioned to tamper with ancient history, so as to identify Scotia with Ireland, went to work. If they had made Bede say that Ireland was also called Scotia in his day, one might have given up the attempt to show that Scotland was the only Scotia in despair. Let us now see what foundations there are for all these quotations just produced from the Ecclesiastical History, in later writers, many of whom profess to copy Bede’s information; and one of whom at least (Wendover) often has whole chaptets of Bede’s work copied almost verbatim.

In the first place, it is remarkable that neither the Saxon Chronicle nor Ethelwerd have anything about Aidan, Finan, Diuma, or Ceollach. The Saxon Chronicle only mentions Colman under the year 664, but merely says: "Colman, with his companions, went to his country."

Florence of Worcester says, under the year 651: "After the murder of King Oswin, bishop Aidan departed to the realms of bliss.... Finan was raised to the bishopric in his place, being consecrated and sent by the Scots." Under the year 655, he has: "Diuma . . was the first who was made bishop of the province of Mercia.... The second was Ceollan, a Scotchman by birth." Under the year 661, we have: "Finan, bishop of the Northumbrians, died, and was succeeded by Colman, who was also sent from Scotland." Under 664: "In the thirtieth year after the Scotch bishops were established in Northumbria....questions having been raised in that province respecting Easter," &c., a synod was held, at which, after much debate, it was "agreed to relinquish the invalid usages of the Scotch. . . . Colman, silenced by the unanimous resolution of the Catholics, re-joined his adherents in Scotland, and, on his withdrawing to his own country, Tuda was appointed bishop of the Northumbrians in his stead." This is all he says about Colman and these Scottish bishops.

Henry of Huntingdon says:

"Diuma became the first bishop of the Midland Angles, and the Mereians. He died and was buried in Mercia, and was succeeded by Ceollach, who, however, retired to the Scots, from whom he came. . . . In the meantime Finan, the bishop, erected a church of hewn timber in the isle of Lindisfarne. . . When Finan died, he was succeeded by Colman, who kept Easter irregularly, as Aidan and Finan had done. Whereupon a conference was held in the presence of King Oswy.... . Colman being unwilling to change the usage of Father Aidan, returned to his own country. . . . Tuda succeeded him in the see of Northumbria.... The three Scottish bishops—Aidan, Finan, and Colman—were extraordinary patterns of sanctity and frugality."

Roger of Wendover has under the year 651: He (Aidan) was succeeded in the bishopric of Lindisfarne by Finan, a Scot by nation." Under 656: "Diuma was the first bishop in the province of the Mercians.....The second bishop of the same province was Ceollac, who, quitting the episcopal office, returned to Scotland." "663. At the same time there was a great disputation in England beween the English and the Scots, respecting the observance of Easter; for there assembled at Streneshal, King Oswy and his son Alfrid, Colman, a Scot, bishop of Lindisfarne, with his clergy from Scotland," "664, Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne, returned to Scotland with his clergy, and Tuda was ordained bishop in his room."

William of Malmesbury mentions Aidan only, and all that he says about the Scots and the Easter controversy is this: "This faith (the Christian), brought to maturity shortly after by the Scots, but wavering in many ecclesiastical observances, was now settled on canonical foundations."

In Reeves’ edition of Adamnan’s Life of St Columba, published by the Irish Archicological Society, a note at page 341, after quoting the passages given above from Bede’s third Book, chapters seventeenth, twenty-first, twenty-fourth. and twenty-fifth, says: "From the above, Bede considered Hii to be in Scotia." There can be little doubt of this. And if we take the twenty-sixth chapter along with these, and look at the same events recorded by later annalists with Bede’s work before them, especially Huntingdon and. Wendover, it is certain, if they are all genuine records of the writers in whose works they appear, that Bede’s Scotia was a part of the Scotland of the present day. As we shall soon have occasion to show, Huntingdon knew of no Scots in Ireland in the seventh century; and this is also true of Wendover, who endorses Bede’s words regarding the country to which Colman returned by calling it Scotia or Scotland also.

There is nothing in any of the chapters of Book III. from which quotations have been made to imply that there were Scots in any other place but Scotland and the north of England. Hibernia or Ireland is not even mentioned in any one of them. But we can easily see from the way in which a fabricated account (chapter nineteen) of an Irish saint is placed after the seventeenth chapter, and another fabricated account of Egbert’s life in Ireland, after the twenty-sixth, as well as the account of Colman’s visit to Ireland already quoted, how the interpolators managed their task. Regarding the chapter about Colman’s visit to Ireland, it is noteworthy to observe that a small island on the west of Ireland should retain at the present day the name by which it was known in Bede’s time; and the reader will have observed that the word English is frequently used in it. This must have been an ambiguous word in Bede’s days; and it is apparently only used in the fabricated passages. In genuine chapters, such as the twenty-first and twenty-second of Book III. he speaks of the Northumbrians, Mercians, Midland Angles, and East Saxons. In the latter chapter he also speaks of the language of the Saxons.

It is needful also to remark here that the words about Finan having built a church after the manner of the Scots, not of stone, but of hewn oak, which appear in the twenty-fifth chapter of Book III. of the Ecclesiastical History, are only found in Huntingdon. None of the other later works than Bede’s have anything confirming this passage, and surely such a circumstance would have been noticed by some of the more trustworthy annalists if it had had a place in Bede’s original manuscript. When the archaeological evidence is under consideration, this wooden church will be further commented upon.


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