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The Parish of Longforgan
Chapter III. Ecclesiastical Traditions and History
.


"Chapels lurking among trees
Where a few villagers on bended knees
Find solace which a busy world disdains.

Wordsworth

The ecclesiastical traditions and history of the parish are not without interest. It has two ecclesiastical ruins of some importance.

(1) Invergowrie Church, or, as it is now commonly called, Dargie Church, stands on an almost insular knoll1 washed by the Invergowrie burn, on the very borders of Forfarshire, and within a stone's throw of the Tay. The Dundee and Perth railway passes close to it, but, in spite of every change, this little church-crowned islet is one of the quietest old-time nooks in the district. It is a favourite subject for artists, and its sweet repose has made it a favourite haunt of many. The late Mr. M'Cheyne, during his first years in Dundee, " often rode out in an afternoon to the ruined church of Invergowrie, to enjoy an hour's perfect solitude; for he felt meditation and prayer to be the very sinews of his work."

It is not certainly known when, or even by whom, the church was built. In his History of the Popes, Mill says that a church stood at Invergowrie so early as 431 a.d. This would make it perhaps the earliest church north of the Tay. We doubt if this can be claimed for it.

The tradition ;s that it was founded by Bonifacivis Queretinus, but the story of this saint is hopelessly mixed up with fable. The legend is that "he was the Pope of that name, of a Jewish stock, descended from a sister of St. Peter and St. Andrew, and born at Beth-saida; he was ordained priest by John, the patriarch of Jerusalem, in his thirty-sixth year; four years after he came to Rome, where he reigned more than seven years; with seven bishops, two abbesses, and a retinue of seven priests, seven deacons, and of all the minor orders by sevens, he came to Pictland, and founded churches at Invergowrie and Resti-noth, Forfarshire. He baptized King Nectan and all his court. After evangelising and building churches among the South Picts, he went to Ross-shire, founded a church at Rosemarkie, and dedicated it to St. Peter; and at the age of eighty and upwards he died at Rosemarkie, and was buried in the church of St Peter (Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography, i. 330). Boniface's memory is still kept alive at Rosemarkie by a well and a fair.

Two of the bishops who are said to have accompanied him were Pensandus and Madianus, whose names are perhaps preserved in Kil-spindie and St. Madoes in the Carse of Gowrie. But Johnston derives Kilspindie or Kynspinedy from Gaelic, ceann spuinneadaire, "height of the plunderer."

The greater part of this story is clearly legendary. Skene thinks that the truth at the bottom of it is, that Boniface was an Italian priest who came to Scotland in the seventh or eighth century, with a view to bring the Scottish Church to adopt the Roman customs. Boniface is described as "a grave and venerable person." Archbishop Spotswood, in his History of the Church of Scotland\ refers thus to his coming to Invergowrie : "Landing in the river of Tay, at the mouth of a little Water (Gobriat or Gowrie, cf. Utrecht MSS.) that divided the countries of Angus and Mernis, he there built a church to the memory of St. Peter the Apostle; another, not far from thence, he built at Telin, and a third at Restennoth." As has been already said, it is not certain when the church was built, but it was one of the earliest north of the 1 ay. Two curious boulders may be. seen not very far from it. Legend tells that one day whilst Dargie Church was building, Satan was standing on the hills of Fife. Incensed at the sight of the rising church, Satan took and threw those stones to destroy it. Both of them missed thei" mark. The one fell beyond it, and lies in the Greystane grounds (the Paddock Stone); the other fell short of it, and is embedded in the river. It would seem that the Prince of Darkness had a persistent ill-will to the Carse of Gowrie. Whether to revenge his defeat or not, we cannot say, but legend tells he was once desirous of coming from Kirkcaldy to the Carse. He took with him a lapful of stones, which he meant to use as stepping-stones across the Tay into the lands of Gowrie. Just as he was stepping over Benarty Hill n Kinross, he stumbled, dropping on the land beneath, the boulders that mark it.

Prior to the Reformation, Dargie Church belonged to the Abbey of Scone. The Monastery of Scone was a Culdee foundation of an early date. It was reformed in 1114 or 1115 by King Alexander I., who established there a community of Canons regular of St. Augustine, whom he brought from near Pontefract. There are two versions of the story as to how Invergowrie Church came to be attached to Scone. Sir James Balfour tells it this way : " After the death of Edgar, his brother Alexander, surnamed Ferss, succedit him. Quhill he was a priut man, he had at his christening, by the donatione of hes unckell, Donald Bane, Earle of Gowrey, the lands of Liffe and Innergowrey, quher, in the first zeire of his raing, he began then to buld a staitly palace and castle, bot was interrupted by the rebells of Meirnes and Murray, quho besett him in the night, and had doubtesly killed him, had not Alexander Carrone firmly carried the king save away . . . and by a small boat saived themselves, to Fyffe and the south pairts of the kingdom, where he raised ane armey, and marched against the forsaid rebells of Meirnes and Murray, quhome he totally overthrew and subdewed, for which great mercy and preser-vatione, in a thankful retribution to God, he foundit the monasterey of Scone; and too it gave hes first lands of Liffe and Innergowrey, in A. 1114."

Wyntown in his Cronykil tells the story more picturesquely and somewhat differently. When King Edgar died in 1107, "Be-north Tay in-til Dunde," his brother Alexander was crowned king, and rc.igned seventeen years in honour and power. He "possessed the foreign luxuries of an Arabian horse, velvet furniture, and 1 urkish armour." Wyntown tells us that Alexander

"Wes rycht manly;
Alysandyr the Fcrs for-thi [therefore]
He was cald be this resowne."

His palace was at Gray, not far off from Invergowrie.

"In Incvcrgowry d Sesovvne Wyth an honest Curt he Mde, For thare a Maner plds he hade, And all the land lyand by Wes hys Deniayne than hdlyly. Swd, suddanly a-pon hym then A multitude of Scottis men [Come] in entent to sla the King."

Perceiving that he had knowledge of their purpose, they turned quickly and fled over the Mount. The king with his court pursued them "owre the Stockfurd into Ros." There they gathered again, intending to slay him. Undaunted by the heavy flood at the Stock-furd, he rode across, gave chase, and overtook them, and slew them, and "or he past

"Owt of that land, that fewe he left
To tak on hand swylk purpose eft.
Frd that day hys Legys all Oysid hym
Alysandyr the Fers to call."

Wyntown then goes on to tell of his return to Invergowrie. -

"Syne he sped hym wytht gret hy
Hdme agayne til Inewrgowry.
And in devotyowne movyd, swne
De Abbay he fowndyd than of Scwne.
Fra Saynt Oswaldis in Ingland
Chanownys he browcht to be serwand
God, and Saynt Mychael, regulare
In-til Saynt Austynys ordyr thare."

In the Chartulary of Scone there are frequent references to the church of Invergowrie. The name appears in a good many different forms, e.g. Invergowry, Inuergourin, Inuer-gouren, Invergorin, Innergoueryn, Inuer-goueryn, Inuergouerin, Invergoveryn, Inner-gowrie, Inuergoueren, Inuergowrin, Innergoury.

The first charter of the "Liber Ecclesie de Scon" is entitled Carta Alexandri Regis de Fundatione Abbatie. This dedicates to the church of Scone certain possessions, "cum tribus carucatis Liff cum sex carucatis Grudin cum decern carucatis Inuergourin," etc., with three ploughgates at Liff, six ploughgates at Gourdie, ten ploughgates at Invergowrie. (The two great land measures were Carucates or ploughgates, and Bovates or oxgangs.) " The oxgang contained thirteen acres, two oxgangs made a husband-land, and eight oxgangs a ploughgate, which thus consisted of 104 acres of arable land" (Skene, Ccltic Scotland, iii. 224).

The fifth charter is a charter of King Malcolm, confirmatory of the gift.

The sixteenth charter is entitled Carta Malcomi Regis de ecclesia de Inuergouerin. This charter is a gift to God, to the church of the Holy Trinity of Scone, and to the abbot and canons serving God there of the church of Inuergoueren, "cum dimidia carucata terre que jacet in occidentali parte ecclesie prenominate nomine Dargoch et cum omnibus pertmentiis ad eandem ecclesiam vel terram pertinentibus in liberam elimosinam"—"with the half plough-gate of land which lies in the west part of the church named Dargoch, together with everything pertaining to the said church or land in free gift."

The thirty-second charter is a charter of King William, granting and confirming the same. And it is named in several episcopal charters, and in a papal bull of Benedict. Dargoch, now Dargie, appears also in the "forms Dargon and Dargo; and in the Chartulary, and in the Feus of Scone, are to be found a good many of the local names of the surrounding district—the "landis and toun of Wester Innergowry," the land of Lyf, Ochtirlyf, Estergurdy, Vestergurdy, Myddilgurdy, Petelpy, Driburgh, Logy, Blak-nes, Balgally, Balgartynnay, Denemill, Kirk-toun of Liff, Netherliff, Brewlandis, Kirkcroft, Tempilhall, etc.

We may give here an example or two from the Feus of Scone :—

XXXII. To umquhile David Ogilvy of Tempilhall & Christiane Gelletlie his spous half of the cornemyln of Denmyln, &c.; 1 March 1585.

XLI. To Johnne Watsoun the serd pairt with the auchteen pairt of the landis & toun of Wester Innergowry, etc.; 3 March 1585.

LI 11. To Johnne Moreis in Wester Innergowry and Elizebeth Blak his spous of the half of the corne myln and myllandis of Wester Innergowrie; 5 March 1585.

LXXII. To Jonet Bell relict of umquhile

Robert Blak and Johnne Blak her sone the landis of Wester Innergowry; 16 March 1585.

LXXXII. To umquhile William Charteris the landis of Dargo ; 16 April 1586.

Next to nothing can be said of Invergowne Kirk from the days of Alexander to days subsequent to the Reformation. A charter exists of Hugo, Bishop of St. Andrews, confirming certain donations made by his predecessors, amongst others, 27 of the churches of Scone, with the chapel of Kinfans, Craigy, Rate, Liff, and Innergoury, etc.

It was, like Kinfauns, in the " Baronie in Angus," and its rental, as it appears in the Rentall of the Abbacie of Scowne [1561], was—

The Kirk of Innergowrie . . xxlib.

The Kirk of Kinfauns . . . xxxiijli. vjs. viijd.

At the same time its minister seems to have been paid in kind—

Tua ch. beir.

Tua ch. meill.

In the sixteenth century the benefices of Liff, Logie, and I nvei gowrie were held by one incumbent. In 1551, "Dan Andro Gornar, ane of the brether of the Abbay of Scone," was "vicar of Loge, Lif, and Inergowry."

One little thing links the Almshouse of the Red or the Trinity Friars in Dundee both with Longforgan and Invergowrie. King Robert III. gave the church of Kettins, with all its fruits and revenues, perpetually to the Hospital. In time, "the oversight of the Hospital and its endowments came into the hands of the Town Council; and it is probable that they, to meet pressing necessities, sold the Kettins' revenues in great part, as they did the teinds of Longforgan at a later time, leaving only a portion unalienated. . . . We do not know when the Trinity Friars ceased to be associated with the Hospital, but for a considerable time before the Reformation the Town Council regularly appointed Almshouse masters to take charge of the house, and to collect and disburse its revenues; as also chaplains to minister to the spiritual wants of its inmates. . . . The Almshouse Chapel was honourably furnished, and the resident chaplain was suitably accommodated. Before the occupation of the town by the English in 1547-48, the altar ornaments and the other valuables in the house were carried away for safety, and hid in Invergowrie. After the spoilers had gone, and the Council were beginning to restore such order as they could, they ' decernit John Watson to deliver to the maister of the Almshouse ane silver chalice, and ane wardour bed with the curtains given to the merchants, with all other gear whilk he lies perteining thereto; and shortly after, John Watson of Ennergowry deliverit ane silver chalice, weighing auchteen unce spune and all, and confessit that he had ane wTardour bed with twa curtains of serge perteining to the Almshouse'" (Maxwell's Old Dundee prior to the Reformation, p. 66). This John Watson was " a man of good credit." He was Knox's authority for the story of George Wishart's prayer at the house of [ames Watson at Invergowrie. John Watson was a relative of James.

Beyond this, a reference in some charter and the mention of a few names in the Feus of Scone, we know little of the church of Invergowrie during this time, and can only realise its life as sharing the life of Scone, and as kindred to the life of other churches in the country. - After the Reformation, Invergowrie Church was served by a Ninian Hall, who was translated toitini57i. He had a stipend of ^5, us. ifd., "payit be the Collectour of Angus." Pie was removed to Biggar before 1574.

In the Register of Ministers and Readers in the Kirk of Scotland, from the book of the Assignation of Stipends in 1574, we find that Logy, Dundee, Lyff, Invergowrie, Abirnyte, Lundie, were grouped together, and served by William Haitlie, minister, with Andro Hany, reidare at Logie and Lyff, Alexander Forbes, reidare at Invergowrie, Michael Greig, reidare at Abirnytt, George Cochrane, reidare at Lundy. Haitlie was succeeded in the charge of Invergowrie by John Christesoun. Before September 1613, the parish of Invergowrie was united to Liff, and it was also the practice at this time to present to Liff, Logie, and Invergowrie. The king was the patron. (The grass in the churchyard belongs to the minister of Liff, and there is also a portion of land known as the Glebe.) The present church, which stands on the foundation of an earlier one, has no claim to great antiquity. It is in ruins, which are, however, well preserved, and seen through the screen of trees that guard it, its ivy-covered walls make a pleasing picture. Architecturally, it has nothing special to mark it. But it is not all of the same age.

The most interesting thing in Invergowrie Church is the sculptured work. Not very far from the end of the inner south wall may be observed, built into it, a beautiful Celtic stone. Dr. Joseph Anderson, in his Scotland in Early Christian Times (Second Series), refers to it. The Invergowrie stone is a cross-bearing slab, and is one of the few of the erect slabs which, "like the free-standing crosses, are characterised by the absence of the symbols (p. 81). It is two and a half feet high. I he entire surface of the stone is divided into panels, "without any apparent prominence being given to one more than another (p. 100). 1 he interlaced work of the monument is fine. Generally it is "associated with fretwork, as in Fig. 66, at Invergowrie. ... In the general term fretwork I include almost all the varieties of pattern produced by straight instead of curved h'nes. The lines may intersect or approach each other vertically or horizontally, or deflect at various angles ; but they do not interlace, and they do not curve." Built also into the outside wall is another stone, on which is carved the figures of three men. Their look and dress pronounce them ecclesiastics. There is some scroll-work beneath. Tab© of the figures have shoulder brooches. In his Prehistoric Annals of Scotland (vol. ii. p. 266), Wilson says of these brooches: "The oval brooches are most frequently found in pairs, and may be presumed to have been worn on the front of the shoulders or breast, as shown in a curious piece of sculpture built into the church wall of Inver-gowrie. It represents, probably, priests, as two of them hold books in their hands. The two outer figures are adorned with large brooches on their shoulders; while the central, and perhaps more important figure is without them, but wears instead a circular ornament on the lower front of his garment. Along with the pairs of oval brooches, a third is frequently found, flat and sometimes trefoiled." He thinks that the brooches belong to the Scoto-Norwegian period (870 a.d.-1064). Immediately over this stone is a bit of another stone with a horse and rider, above which is to be seen a part of the bodies of two or three figures. (For Illustration, see p. 63.)

 

We may mention that there are several sculptured monuments in the Carse district. There is a stone at Benvie, a valuable monument at St Madoes, and fine slabs at Rossie Priory. Illustrations of the Invergowrie stones may be seen in the work issued by the Spalding Club, on the Sculptured Monuments of Scotland, by Dr. John Stuart. (Cf. also Proceedings, Soc. Antiquaries, vol. ii. 443; vi. 394-95 ; xvi. 95 ; xvil 211 ; Jervise and Warden.)

The aisle of the church is the burial-place of the Clayhills of Invergowrie, the nave that of the Mylnes of Mylnefield. There are few stones of public note in the little churchyard which surrounds it. One of the more interesting is a stone to a son of the famous Bishop Horsley of St. Asaph.

The monolith just outside the churchyard has no special value. It served as a bridge across the stream before the present one was built.

A quaint prophecy, attributed to '1 homas the Rhymer (circa 12801, may bring to a close our notes on this venerable ruin. A little way from the churchyard are "two unembellished, boulders, each about two tons weight," known as the; Goors, the Gows, the Ewes or the Yowes of Gowrie. Of these, Thomas sings—

"When the Yowes o' Gowrie come to land, The Day o' Judgment's near at hand."

At the beginning of the century the " Yowes " were within high-water mark. Wnting in 1826, Robert Chambers says that the prophecy obtained " universal credit among the country people. In consequence of the natural retreat of the waters from that shore of the firth, the stones are gradually approaching the land, and there is no doubt will ultimately be beyond flood-mark. It is the popular belief that they move an inch nearer to the shore every year. The expected fulfilment of the prophecy has deprived many an old woman of her sleep, and it is a common practice among the weavers and bonnet - makers of Dundee to walk out to Invergowrie on Sunday afternoons, simply to see what progress 'the Yowes' are making" 1 Popular Rhymes, p. 97).

It is said that the building of the Dundee and Perth railway outside the Goors has discredited Thomas. But we must leave to his commentators to say whether they have quite "come to land," and also to interpret the line—

"The Day o' Judgment's near at ha/id."

Not far off is the residence of Mr. James Henderson, which bears the historic name of The Gows.

(2) Dron Chapel stands on a platform, above a del) in the high grounds of Longforgan, a Mile and a half north of the village. The name Dron (Gaelic, Droigheann, Droighionn) moans 5

Black-thorn. The chapel belonged to the Abbey of Coupar-Angus. That abbey was founded in 1164 by King Malcolm IV., grandson of David I., who is known as "ane soir sanct for the crown." The Coupar monks belonged to the Cistercian Order, or, as they came to be called, the White Monks, their whole dress having been white except the cowl and scapular. The Cistercian Order was founded in 1090 by Robert de Molesme, at Citeaux, in Burgundy, hence their name Citercians or Cistercians. The most famous of the Cistercians is the great St. Bernard, author 'of the hymn, " Jesu! dulcis memoria" ("Jesus! the very thought of Thee"), and others; but the order reckoned in its ranks able and earnest men, who gave it such an impulse that there were at one time between three and four thousand Cistercian houses. Coupar was one of these, and during four centuries, from its foundation in 1164, it continued to be a famous centre of religious life in Scotland. The abbey had many benefactors, amongst the most prominent being the Hays of Errol.

The peeps which the register of Cupar Abbey gives of its life, with its abbots and brothers, their friends and other religious men, with its baker and brewer, its gardener and warreners, its land-steward and foresters, its bullock-herds and storemasters, its cellarer and bursar, with its rules as to food, " to the proportion for each brother for daily bread sixteen ounces of good wheat, sixteen ounces of oaten bread, two quarts of beer (ceruisie), and for the said strangers yearly one boll of wheat,"—if they tell us little directly of Dron, yet help us to understand the life it shared. Each brother got "in the year ^13, 6s. 8d. for flesh, fish, butter, salt, and other spices, and figs, soap (smigmate), and candles for the refectory, etc.. . . . and for clothing, 53s. 4d. each friar annually."

The chapel at Dron was built in 1164. It is now almost entirely in ruins. But the gables remain, in one of which, the west, there is a considerable window. A churchyard surrounded it, and there seems to have been, from the earliest t;mes, an almost direct road from the chapel at Dron to the abbey at Coupar. There is a fine view from the platform towards Lochee, and the Tay at Dundee. The latter town was the port for Coupar Abbey. Once a year the principal tenantry were bound to send a couple of horse and four oxen to bring up to the abbey such things as coal, lime, timber, slates, and perhaps a little of the Burgundian wine for which the Abbey of Citeaux was so famous. Dron, we may be sure, got its share from the passing caravans.

About a mile to the south of Longforgan, and not far from the Tay, lie the grounds and orchard of Templehall. A little way from it there used to be seen the remains of a burying-ground. It is probable that there was a chapel beside it at one time. 'I here is, so far as we know, no documentary evidence on the matter ; but in view of the fact that the Knight Templars had lands in so many parishes, it is not at all unlikely that' I emplehall is a memorial of their zeal. A stone, evidently a part of a tombstone, may be seen .in the grounds, bearing the date 1664. Another, built into a wall, has 1677 on it.

About 17S0, when trenches were being dug at the east end of Longforgan village, some large stones were found "lying in such an arrangement as gave the appearance of a large building, which is supposed to have been some religious establishment" (Old Stat. Acc., xix. 561). These are not now to be seen. Farther west, on the bank of Longforgan, some ecclesiastical stones have also been turned up.

Longforgan is associated with the name of another saint besides Doniface—St. Modwenna, or, as the name is sometimes given, Moninna, Monenna, Monyma, Monynne, Medana. The story of Modwenna, like that of Boniface, is wrapt in confusion. Some think that there was more than one Modwenna. Forbes, however, holds that there was but one, and looks on her as "a connecting link between the three great wonder-workers of Ireland, as receiving the monastic habit from St. Patrick, as ever continuing the friend of St. Brigida, and as yielding up her spirit in the same year that the great Apostle of Hy entered into the world."

Her name was Darerca, her cognomen Monynne. She was born in Ireland, in the region of Conaille, and had her chief abode at Killevy. At an early age she took a vow of chastity, and, according to the story, got the virgin habit from St. Patrick. Leaving Ireland, she laboured in England and Scotland. Con-chubranus says that she founded seven churches in Scotland. The first was at Chilnecase in Galluveic (Galloway); the second on the summit of the hill Dundevenel (Dundonald); the third on the hill of Dunbreten (Dumbarton); the fourth on the castle of Strivelin;, the fifth

in Duneden, which in the English language is called Eden-burg; the sixth on the hill of Dunpelder ; and the seventh at Lanfortin, near Aleethe, supposed to be Dundee. Hector Boyce (born at Dundee about 1465) is the first to give as a name Alectum.

Modwenna had a special liking for Lanfortin, which is, of course, Longforgan. Here she is said to have sung " the Psalter immersed in water to the breast, and received the consolation of angels, once only interrupted by a sin of one of the sisters." The sin of the sister consisted of a trifling theft. The story is, that one day, when Modwenna was out on a pilgrimage with the sisters, they came to a river which, being shallow, they meant to ford. To their surprise, however, it rose in flood as they reached it, and fording was impossible. Alarmed at this, Modwenna sought to discover the sinful deed which she was sure must have caused this unexpected difficulty. One of the sisters confessed that she had stolen a handful of leeks. No sooner was it confessed and repented of, than the flood fell, and the pilgrims were able to cross the stream.

From Longforgan, Modwenna went to Rome, journeying there "with naked feet and hair shirt." On her return from Rome she founded a monastery at Burton-on-Trent, and then revisited Longforgan, where she died, about one hundred and thirty years old. Conchubranus says: "Post haec vero exiit ad Aleethe, ubi modo est optima ecclesia, quam Longfortin aedeficavit, cum quodam fonte sanctissimo . . . et multum dilexit ilium locum in quo in finem vitae suae ut affirmant, Domino volente, emisit spiritum." ("After these things then she went to Aleethe, where there is a very fine church, which she built at Longfortin, with a most sacred spring, . . . and she loved that place much in which, at the close of her life, as they affirm, God willing it, she gave up her spirit.")

Her sisters were sent for, and they stayed some days at Longforgan. The following epitaph, quoted by Ussher, gives her story shortly—

"Ortum Modwennae dat Hibernia, Scotia finem, Anglia dat tumulum, dat Deus alta poli. Prima dedit vitam, sed mortem terra secunda, Et terram terrae tertia terra dedit. Aufert Lanfortin quam terra Conallea profert; Felix Burtonium virginis ossa tenet."

"Ireland gives Modwenna birth, Scotland her end, England a grave, God the height of heaven. The first gave her life, but the second land death, The third land gave her a home of earth. Lanfortin carries off what the land of Conaille brings forth; Happy Burton keeps the bones of the virgin."

Ussher gives 660 as the date of her death in the Index Chrouologicus to his British Antiquities. DCLX. " Monenna virgo Lan-fort'ir in Albania mortua est."

'I here is a holy well dedicated to her in Kirkmaiden parish, Wigtownshire. Her relics are said to have been divided between the Scots, English, and Irish, the first portion of them being at Lanfortin. Cf. Skene, Celtic Scotland,, ii. 37.

The Aberdeen Breviary states that St. Palladius died " at Longforgund in the Mearnis." " Annorum plenus apud Longforgund in Mernis, in pace requiescit beata." This is, however, evidently an error on the part of the scribe, who wrote Longforgund instead of Fordoun, the scene of some of Palladius' labours, and the reputed place of his death.


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