Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

An Historical Account of the Ancient Culdees of Iona
And of their settlements in Scotland, England and Ireland by John Jamieson D.D. (1811)

When the author engaged in this disquisition, it was not with the remotest idea of writing a book on the subject. His sole design was to collect a few materials, to be afterwards thrown together, so as to form an article in a literary work, to which he had promised to contribute. But, from the contradictory assertions of learned and able writers, concerning the Culdees; from the variety of topics regarding their history or character, which demanded particular attention ; and from the indispensable necessity, in an inquiry of this kind, of producing original authorities; he soon found, that it was in vain to think of giving any tolerable account of this celebrated society within the usual limits of an essay. Various difficulties have occurred, indeed, in the progress of this investigation. But, in consequence of persevering in it, he has had the satisfaction of meeting with facts, which seem to have been formerly overlooked; and he flatters himself that he has been able to set some others in a new light.

Although far from thinking that the work can be free from mistakes, he is conscious that he has done all in his power fairly to exhibit the testimony of antiquity on this subject. If it shall appear to the candid reader, that the author has in any measure elucidated this obscure, but important branch of our ancient history, he will not regret his labour.

Edinburgh, January 20, 1811.


There is no portion of the Scottish history, which has a higher claim to attention, than that which respects the Culdees. "Nor are the natives of Scotland alone interested in it. Whatever he the peculiar influence of national attachment, or of local connection, this is a subject which merits the regard of all who bear the name of Protestants. By various writers, indeed, it has either been industriously consigned to oblivion, or, if brought into view grossly misrepresented. But, happily, amidst all the obscurity and fable, in which the more early part of our history is involved, such gleams of light now and then break forth, as not only to demonstrate the existence, but to elucidate the character, of a succession of men, who, while they were an honour to their country, were at the same time an ornament to the christian name. Nor is their claim to attention enfeebled, from the circumstance of their appearing in a remote corner of the earth, as champions for the simplicity of our faith, and for the independence of the church, at the very time that error and tyranny had extended their baleful empire over the continent of Europe. They, in this respect, resemble the Haldenses, who, hid amidst the almost inaccessible retreats of Piedmont, and environed by the natural bulwarks of the Alpine regions, during the same dark period, preserved the  truth in its purity, till the time appointed for its more general dissemination arrived.


Chapter I
Of the Name, Culdees.— Conjectures as to its Origin,—Of the first preaching of the Gospel in North Britain.—Of the Mission of Palladium, —lona the principal Seat of the Culdees.—Said to have been the immediate Successors of the Druids.

Chapter II
Of the coming of Columba into Britain —Cursory View of his Life and Character.— To be distinguished from Abbot Columban.— Of the Island of lona.— Of the Druids.—The Doctrine of the Culdees, and their Mode of Living.

Chapter III
Of the Ecclesiastical Government of the Culdees.—The Account given of this by Bede.—How explained by Bishop Lloyd.—Of Sodora.— Whether a Bishop always resided at Hii.— Usher's Testimony from, the Annals of Ulster.—Goodall's Reasoning on this Head.

Chapter IV
Account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the Culdees continued.—Of the Mission of Bishop Aidan to the Northumbrians.—Mistranslations in the modern English Version of Bede.—Of the Seniores at lona.— Whether the Term denoted Bishops, or Presbyters—Whether the Culdeau Government resembled that of a Modern University—Of Gillan's Reasoning.—If the Episcopal Missionaries to Northurnbria were amenable to the College of lona.

Chapter V
Continuation of the Account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the Culdees.— Bishop Lloyd's View of the Ordination of Finan.— Of that of Colmall.— Bedes
Account, of the Ordination if Aidan.— Of the Episcopate of Cedd.— Of the Conversion of the Saxons by the Scots.— Testimony if the Saxon Chronicle.

Chapter VI
Of the principal Seats of the Culdees.— Of Abernethy.— Antiquity of this Foundation—Of St Bridget.—Whether Abernethy was a Bishopric—Of the University here- Of the Collegiate Church.— Property of the Abbey given to that of Aberbrothoc.—Controversy on his Head.— Temporal Lords of Abernethy.

Chapter VII
Monastery of Culdees at Loch Levin.—Of St Setf—Donations.— Library.—Foundation at Dunkeld.—Reliques of St Columba transported thither.— Of the Primacy ascribed to it.—The Memory of Columba long held in Veneration there.—Monastic Seal.— Culdees at St Andrews.—Of Regains.— Of Constantine.—Endowments of the Priory.—If originally the Seat of a Bishop?

Chapter VIII
Of the Culdees of Brechin.— Whether they merely constituted the Episcopal Chapter
 —Of those at Dunblane.—Of the supposed Foundation at Muthel.— Of that of Monimusk.—Culdees at Portmoak,—Scone,—Kirkcaldy,—Culross,— Mailros.

Chapter IX
Of the Monasteries of Ornsay and Oronsay.— Of Govan;—Abercom;—Inchcalm;—Tyningham;—Aberlady ;—and Coldingham.— Of the first Missionaries to the Orkney Islands.—Churches and Chapels dedicated to St Columba.

Chapter X
Of the Opposition of the Culdees to the Romish System.—Testimony of Bede;—Of Con;—Of Alcuin;—Of Bromton;—Of Auricular Confession ;—the Tonsure;—Mode of Baptism ;—the Real Presence;—Idolatrous Worship Supererogation—the. Mass-Celibacy —Culdees not considered as Brethren by the Romanists.

Chapter XI
The Judgment of the Adherents of Rome concerning the Culdees.—Of the Synod of Stroneshalch.—Of Colman and Adomnav.—Government not the only Ground of Difference with the, Romanists.—Charge brought by Richard of Hexham against the Scots.— Character given of the Culdees by Dr Henry.— Of the Synod of Cealhythe.—Their Character as given by Gibbon.—Of Clemens, Samson, and Firgilius.—Speech of Gilbert Murray.

Chapter XII
Of the Suppression of the Culdees.—Means employed for this Purpose.— Their Promotion to Bishoprics.— Increase <f Episcopal Sees.—Preference given to Foreigners—Introduction of Canojts Regular;—at St Andrezcs;—Lochlevin ;—Dunkeld;—Brechin.— Convention between Bishop Malvoisin and the Culdees of Monimusk.—Remarks on it,

Chapter XIII
Suppression of the Culdees at St Andrews.—Preparatory Measures adopted with this View.—Their Controversy with the. Canons Regular as to St Marys Church.—Remarks on Goodaws Account of this.—State of the Culdees at lona.— Their Subjection to the Authority of Rome, and Expulsion of those who were refractory.—Of the Translation of the Reliques of Adomnan, and of Columba.

Chapter XIV
Of the Library at lona.—Account given of it by Pennant, from Bocce.—Causes assigned for its Destruction;—Devastations by the Danes;—by Edward I;—by the Reformers;—by Cromwell;—during the Period of Persecution.— Books,formerly belonging to it, said to be still extant.—The Culdees preserved till about the Time the Lollards appeared.—Of the Reformation in Scotland, whether by Bishops?— Of those called Superintendents.

Chapter XV
Objections considered.—The supposed Inconsistency of the Monks of lona sending Bishops, or Improbability of their being applied to for such a Mission, if unfriendly to the Order.— The Culdees said to have been merely the Episcopal Chapter of the Diocese in which they resided.—Asserted, that there were never any Culdees at lona, or within the Territories of the Ancient Scots; and that they made their first Appearance at St Andreas.


Accounts of the Editions and MSS

Return to our Online Books Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus