Influence of the Pre-Reformation Church on Scottish Place-Names – Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew the ApostleThe name Saint Andrews suggests the question, What connection had Andrew the Apostle with that ancient seat of learning and centre of religious life in mediaeval Scotland? Saint Andrews became the ecclesiastical metropolis in the tenth century, when the chief bishopric of Alban was removed thither from Abernethy in Perthshire. But we have to look for the ecclesiastical origin of the place at a date about two centuries earlier. Dr Skene holds that in 736, during the reign of Angus, son of Fergus, Bishop Acca of Hexham, having fled from his own diocese, took refuge among the Picts, and brought with him to Fife certain bones believed to be those of Saint Andrew. In an address delivered at Saint Andrews, the late Marquess of Bute observes

“It is certain that Angus, King of the Picts, received reliques of the Apostle, which he placed here, and immolated this place, the antient Muckross, the more modern Cillrighmonaich, to the Apostle, from whom it is now named.”

The Marquess adds

“Whatever the history of these bits of bone, and whether they were or were not part of the body of the first-called apostle of Christ, they were undoubtedly believed at the time to be genuine, and they were the immediate cause of the creation of Saint Andrews as the great national Church of Scotland.”

According to a well-known tradition, the relics of Saint Andrew were brought from the East to Fife in the fourth century by Saint Regulus, otherwise Saint Rule; but much uncertainty attaches to the chronology of the story. Regulus is somewhat of a hagiological problem which even Dr Skene, with all his historical knowledge, has failed to completely solve. We find a trace of Saint Andrew in the far North, for in the mainland of Orkney is the parish of Saint Andrews, separate quoad sacra, but united quoad civilia to Deerness. In Elginshire was the ancient parish of Saint Andrews, joined to Lhanbryd in 1780. Its church is gone, but its burying-ground remains, close to the Lossie, near Kirkhill.

By Nectan, ruler of the Picts, Saint Peter was made the guardian of his kingdom in 710; but later in the same century Saint Andrew took his place, and, as every one knows, is still reckoned the patron saint of Scotland.

– from Influence of the Pre-Reformation Church on Scottish Place-Names, by James Murray Mackinlay, 1904