Calendar of Scottish Saints – Saint Nathalan or Nauchlan, Bishop, A.D. 678


28 January. This saint was born of a noble Scottish family at Tullich, Aberdeenshire. From his youth he was distinguished for great piety, and spent much of his time in manual labour in the fields as a voluntary mortification and a means of subduing the passions. Many miracles are related of him. It is said that having given away all his corn in time of famine, he caused the fields to be sown with sand for lack of grain, and was rewarded by a plentiful harvest. Having given way to murmuring in a moment of impatience he imposed upon himself the penance of making a pilgrimage to Rome, wearing on his leg a heavy chain; this he fastened by a padlock and threw the key into the Dee at a place now known as “The Pool of the Key.” He is said to have bought a fish for food in Rome and to have found the key in its stomach; this he took for a supernatural intimation to discontinue his self-inflicted mortification.

Being made bishop by the Pope, he returned to his native land as an apostle of the Faith. He built in Deeside several churches at his own expense; one of these was at his native place, Tullich, where a huge slab of granite, sculptured with an antique cross, forms the top lintel of one of the doors of the ancient church, and is thought to have been a portion of the saint’s tomb. Saint Nathalan is said to have visited Ireland, and to have founded the monastery of Dungiven in Ulster. He died at a very advanced age at Tullich, on January 8th, 678. He became the patron saint of Deeside, and traces of his cultus still remain in that district. Long after Protestants had lost sight of the reason for it, an annual holiday was held on his feast day, no work being allowed to be done. A market was formerly held at Old Meldrum on or near this day, called “Saint Nathalan’s Fair,” and another at Cowie, Kincardineshire. The ancient name of Meldrum was Bothelney, a corruption of Bothnethalen, which signifies “habitation of Nathalan.” Near the ruins of the old church is still to be seen “Nauchlan’s Well.” A quaint local rhyme preserves his memory at Cowie:

“Atween the kirk and the kirk ford
There lies Saint Nauchlan’s hoard.”

The feast of Saint Nathalan was restored by Leo XIII.

MLA Citation

  • Father Michael Barrett, OSB. “Saint Nathalan or Nauchlan, Bishop, A.D. 678”. The Calendar of Scottish Saints, 1919. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 January 2014. Web. 8 December 2019. <>