Wednesday, May 3, 2023



Ceud mìle fàilte!

Welcome to the Mallard Lodge Household in the Kingdom of Atlantia
(Society For Creative Anachronism)

Mallard Lodge Household Arms

Our fierce war cry, "Duck! Duck!"

Mallard Lodge is devoted to the study and re-enactment of all things Scottish (except haggis!), particularly the late 15th and early 16th century periods. Additional posts to this blog include various handouts from University of Atlantia classes on Scotland or other topics for your enlightenment, discussion and approval.

Currently Mallard Lodge has but two members, Lady Sarah Sinclair and Lord Mungo Napier, who are late 15th century Lowland Scots now residing in the Kingdom of Atlantia's Shire of Isenfir. Mallard Lodge, not surprisingly, is our manor house.

Lord Mungo sometimes masquerades as The Scarlet Varlet, defender of the weak and oppressed (for a price; ask about our quantity discounts). He also occasionally appears in a late 16th century persona as the kilted Highland trouble-maker Duncan an Crabbit (aka Duncan the Crabby).

We welcome inquiries about Scottish history, culture, costume, or weapons, and are happy to advise Scadians who wish to create a Scottish persona. You can reach us at .SCA members from any kingdom who are interested in becoming associate members of Mallard Lodge are most welcome. 


We Scots are always recruiting!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023



Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge

Shire of Isenfir, Kingdom of Atlantia

Prepared as a possible University of Atlantia Class

Meet Antoine de Bourgogne, known in English as “Anthony, The Grand Bastard of Burgundy”. With a title like that he is automatically in the running for the “Most Interesting Man in the Medieval World”. Antoine was a master jouster, excellent archer, courageous soldier, skilled diplomat, and a noted collector of fine books. Beyond his many accomplishments, Antoine’s life is a lens to understand Burgundy’s place in late medieval Europe. But first, let’s take a brief look at Burgundy’s history in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Antoine was painted about 1467 by Hans Memling. He wears the Toison d’Or suspended from a simple chain. (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Public Domain through Wikimedia Commons)

Burgundy was among numerous duchies and counties in medieval France. In many French territories, dukes and counts were very rich and powerful, sometimes more rich and powerful than the French kings. These nobles pretty much ran their territories as they pleased, and only did what the king wanted when it was in their interest or to their profit.

The last duke in the House of Burgundy was Philip of Rouvres who died of the plague in 1361 at just 15 years old with no male relatives. Through a regent, Philip had ruled the Duchy of Burgundy. Philip's lands and titles reverted to the King of France, John II (aka “John the Good”, House of Valois). In 1363 John passed the Duchy of Burgundy to his fourth son, also a Philip. He was known as “Philip the Bold” for his spirited defense of his father during the Battle of Poitiers at the age of just 14. Philip the Bold became the first Duke of Burgundy from the House of Valois.

Philip the Bold had the good fortune to marry Margaret of Flanders (the late Philip of Rouvres’ fiancee). She was the daughter, and later sole heir, of Louis II, Count of Flanders. Flanders was where the money was thanks to the wool trade. Through Margaret, Philip the Bold also acquired Antwerp, the duchies of Brabant and Limburg, the County of Rethel,  the French county of Nevers and the Holy Roman Empire's Free County of Burgundy. As a Prince of the Blood he later became Regent of France during the minority, and long madness, of Charles VI (aka “Charles the Mad”). His rivals accused Philip of lining his pockets at public expense (maybe, but they would likely done the same thing, and with a lot less style). The graft accusations were never proven. When Philip died in 1404, he was one of the richest and most powerful men in both France and the Low Countries.

The next duke of Burgundy was John the Fearless. John inherited the County of Artois upon his mother’s death in 1405, but otherwise did little to enhance Burgundian territories. He was largely involved in a fratricidal civil war with the Dukes of Orleans and Armagnac that diverted precious resources from France during the Hundred Years’ War with England. In 1419 John was assassinated during a parley in a carefully prepared death trap by Armagnac retainers. The Dauphin of France, Charles (later King Charles VII) was present, and may have been involved in the plot. He refused to prosecute the assassins, and later rewarded some with positions of power.

Yet another Philip (“Philip the Good”) inherited this diverse empire upon John’s death. Through alliance, inheritance, conquest and outright purchase, the Duchy of Burgundy reached its zenith of wealth, power, culture and political influence. Philip ended up ruling nearly all of what is now Belgium and Holland, and bought the Duchy of Luxembourg for cash.

Burgundian territories under the House of Valois Dukes, 1363-1477. (Creator: Marco Zanoli; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0  International license)

Philip may have been the richest man in Europe at that time. He used his tremendous wealth to support arts and industries, particularly in the Low Countries, including painting, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and of course textiles. His opulent and peripatetic court became the place where the glitterati of Europe went to see and be seen. The finest Burgundian goods were always on show, and agents were available to arrange orders for nobles with expensive tastes and deep pockets.

In 1422 Philip the Good was offered membership in the English Order of the Garter. Philip reluctantly declined the honor when he was advised that acceptance might be high treason against his liege lord, the King of France. Thoroughly miffed, Philip founded his own high order of chivalry, le Ordre de la Toison d’Or (Order of the Golden Fleece) in 1430.

Philip the Good enjoyed beautiful noble women, and kept mistresses in nearly all the cities where his court met. His mistresses bore him 18 acknowledged “natural” children. The total of his known bastards is said to be 26, but there might have been even more. This rather annoyed his pious Duchess, Isabel of Portugal, but she was wise enough to keep her mouth shut. Philip’s blow-by sons were educated at court and trained for high positions in the Burgundian army or administration, with three placed directly into the church as bishops. His daughters were married off to cement important alliances, but two became abbesses of important religious houses. Being a “Bastard of Burgundy” carried both cachet and clout. 

So it was with Antoine, Philip’s second son. He was born to Jeanne de Presle on 30 December 1421, probably at Lisy in Picardy. France. Antoine was described as “a tiny baby with a weak cry and a listless appetite”. Somehow he survived to became one of Europe’s greatest knights. 

Philip raised Antoine to “Count of La Roche”, possibly while still a child. Antoine was inducted into the Golden Fleece in 1456.

Antoine de Bourgogne’s arms were the same as his half-brother Charles, Duke of Burgundy, except a “brisé by a cotice en barre argent”. (Artist: Popvjpaqiaa999, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0  International license)

Like most young noblemen, Antoine was trained in the use of arms. He excelled as a swordsman, horseman and jouster. Antoine later became an arms instructor to his younger half-brother, Charles, Count of Charolais, eventually the next Duke of Burgundy as “Charles the Bold” (known to his critics as “Charles the Rash”). The bond with Charles was extremely strong, and Antoine faithfully served his half-brother in both war and the Burgundian administration.

As a man-at-arms, Antoine participated in many of his father’s wars beginning in 1451. This included the brutal suppression of the Ghent Revolt between 1449 and 1453. He was put in charge of small commands, then given increasingly larger forces. By April 1452 Antoine was commanding a thousand men in the vanguard when the Burgundians raised a siege at Oudenaarde. During the siege, Antoine received his knighthood. He commanded the rear guard at the Battle of Bazel on 16 June 1452, when his half-brother Cornille (Philip’s oldest illegitimate son) was killed pursuing the routed Ghent troops. Antoine received Cornille’s properties and titles, including lordships of Beveren and Vlissingen.

Antoine wed Marie de la Viesville in 1459. He fathered five children with Marie. He also fathered an unknown number of bastards. For his marital infidelities, Antoine was censured by his brother Charles at a general meeting of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1468. This was rather hypocritical, as many knights of the order kept mistresses.

In 1465 Charles the Bold joined the War of Public Weal against the French king Louis XI (“Louis the Prudent”, known to his detractors as “The Universal Spider”). Their forces met at the Battle of Montlhéry on 16 July. During the battle, Antoine’s command was hard pressed by Louis’ men, the center was a stalemate, but the French collapsed in disorder before Charles’ wing. Charles personally pursued some of the fleeing soldiers for the thrill of the kill. One of the French turned on Charles and wounded him in the neck and shoulder. Just in time, Antoine rode to his brother’s rescue, but this left his own command in chaos. Thanks to Charles’ rashness, the battle ended in a costly and fruitless draw. 

Antoine was a master archer. In 1463 he entered the prestigious Guild of Saint Sebastian’s annual tournament in Bruges, a popinjay shoot. Antoine hit the wooden bird, and was declared the winner and King of Archers for a year. It was one of the few opportunities he had to step out from Charles’ shadow. Later Antoine posed for the famous Rogier van der Weyden portrait, proudly holding what is likely the very arrow with which he won the tournament.

Antoine de Bourgogne circa 1463 by Rogier van der Weyden, following Antoine’s victory in the Bruges archery tournament. (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Public Domain through Wikimedia Commons)

Antoine was considered to be among the greatest jousters in continental Europe. He was challenged by Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales, in 1465. They finally jousted in 1467 when Antoine was in England to arrange a marriage between Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. A list field was prepared at Smithfield, with the event personally presided over by King Edward IV. The knights clashed on horseback, ending when Lord Scales accidentally caused a fatal wound to Antoine’s horse. The next day they fought on foot with pole axes. King Edward stopped the bout when Antoine’s armor was broken. The combat was to have continued the following day, but that evening a messenger from Burgundy arrived with the news that Philip the Good had died. The Burgundian delegation was required to return home immediately.

The marriage between Charles and Margaret took place in 1468 near Bruges. Their wedding was followed by a huge pageant and six-day tournament known as the Pas d’Armes de l’Arbre d’Or (Tournament of the Golden Tree). Antoine initially defended the Golden Tree against all challengers until a horse kicked him in the leg. Various other knights then took turns defending the tree, while Antoine acted as master of ceremonies despite his tremendous pain.

The “Golden Tree” with its symbolic dwarf and giant from the Pas d’Armes de l’Arbre d’Or, which followed Charles the Bold’s wedding in 1468. (La Bibliothèque Virtuelle des Manuscrits Médiévaux, Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Lord Scales was declared the overall winner of the tourney, a shrewd piece of diplomatic gamesmanship designed to please Edward IV. Besides the jousting, the event was a lavishly staged allegory involving dwarves, a giant, and a life-sized whale that disgorged singing sirens. As always, the Burgundians knew how to put on a great show!

Antoine was a voracious reader, and a collector of illuminated manuscripts, owning over 45 volumes. He always took some of his books with him on campaign. An otherwise unnamed illuminator from Bruges, the “Master of Anthony of Burgundy”, was employed to illustrate many of Antoine’s books. 

It had long been Philip’s and Charles’ great dream to unite all Burgundy’s holdings into a kingdom independent from both France and the Holy Roman Empire. The fly in the ointment was the Duchy of Lorraine, a Holy Roman Empire territory just to the north of the Duchy of Burgundy that cut off Burgundy and the County of Burgundy from Philip’s and Charles’ northern territories. The dukes of Lorraine, especially René II, stubbornly rebuffed Burgundian attempts to gain control of their lands.

A coalition was assembled to contain Charles’ ambitions and assist Duke René that included the Swiss cantons, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, and Louis XI. Early in 1475 René struck the first blow by raiding Luxembourg. In retaliation, Charles invaded Lorraine, and seized Nancy, its capital city, on 30 November. Lorraine’s army was routed and scattered, and the Duke himself had to flee his country. Then Charles turned his fury on the Swiss, a big mistake! The Swiss seriously mauled the Burgundians at the battles of Grandson and Morat in 1476. By that autumn, René had rebuilt his army and most of Lorraine was back in his hands. He laid siege to Nancy and recovered the town on 6 October after starving English archers in the Burgundian garrison mutinied. 

Charles personally laid siege to Nancy in November, foolishly in the midst of winter. His once-mighty army was decimated by cold, disease and desertion. Although Charles knew René’s army was approaching, his intelligence was very poor and he stubbornly ignored all advice. René had secretly added thousands of (yet unpaid!) Swiss mercenaries his forces. On 5 January 1477 René arrived at Nancy to raise the siege.

At the Battle of Nancy the Swiss attack the Burgundian artillery through a forest at the upper left, while Lorraine soldiers rout the Burgundian cavalry in the lower scene. The knight in the center of the lower action with the multiple plumes on his helm is probably Charles the Bold. Lorraine’s soldiers wear the double-bar Cross of Lorraine, while the Burgundians fly flags with the X-shaped Cross of St. Andrew. The artwork is from Diebold Shilling’s Amtliche Berner Chronik, vol. 3  (Bern, Burgerbibliothek, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0  International license)

The Burgundians wheeled about to face René, but unknown to Charles, the Swiss vanguard had detached itself and snuck into the woods behind the Burgundians’ superb artillery park. At noon the Swiss overran the guns before they could be turned. Now Charles and his unsupported infantry were trapped between René’s army and the Swiss. The Burgundians were routed and cut down by Swiss pikemen and halberders, who took no prisoners. Charles the Bold was thrown from his horse in the retreat, and his skull was cloven by a Swiss battle axe. Antoine and the mounted command staff managed to fight their way through the Swiss to some Lorraine cavalry who accepted the Burgundians’ surrender.

The defeat at Nancy ended Burgundian power in one afternoon. Within two months Louis XI had seized all Burgundian territories within France, largely without resistance, as well as the County of Burgundy. Duke René shopped Antoine to Louis for 10,000 écus to pay off the Swiss before they turned on him. Antoine made peace with Louis, and helped reintegrate former Burgundian lands back into France.

Charles’ only child, Mary of Burgundy (aka “Mary the Rich”) was left with the Low Countries and an empty treasury. Before his death, Charles had been in early marriage negotiations with Archduke Maximilian, son of the Holy Roman Emperor (later succeeding as Emperor Maximilian I). Antoine finalized the marriage contract. Mary and Maximilian were wed at Ghent on 19 August 1477. Upon Mary’s 1482 death in a riding accident, the Burgundian Low Countries passed into direct control by the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors and eventually Habsburg-ruled Spain, leading to wars and all sorts of other turmoil for the next 200 years.

Louis granted Antoine lordship over Sainte-Menehoud, Grandpré, Châtillon and Château-Thierry in 1478. Antoine also served as an ambassador for Louis and the next French king, Charles VIII. For his services, Antoine was inducted into the French Ordre de Saint-Michel in 1480, and legitimized by decree in 1485.

During his final years, Antoine lived at Tournehem-sur-la-Hem near Calais, and was governor of nearby Ardres. He died at Ardres on 5 May 1504 at the age of 83. Antoine was buried in Tournehem at the Église Saint-Médard, a church he had restored. If so, his grave seems to have been lost when the church was rebuilt after later war damage. 

The Église Saint-Médard today, last resting place of Anthony of Burgundy (Wikimedia Commons).

Friday, November 11, 2022





Wikipedia lists 60 saints associated with Scotland and its earlier component kingdoms. Many of these are rather obscure, often Irish missionaries who followed Saint Columba to Iona. This class has only time to discuss four of the most important saints. The choices presented here represent various types of saints: missionaries, incomers, native-born, and a patron saint who had nothing to do with Scotland during his earthly life.

My interest in these saints is largely historical. Church teachings about some of these saints are at variance with historical facts. No disrespect is intended toward any church, their teachings or to any followers of those faiths.



A disciple and apostle of Jesus, Saint Andrew was crucified by the Romans about AD 60 in Patras, Greece. According to the 3rd century Acts of Andrew, he was tied to a Latin Cross. The story that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross at his request because he did not feel worthy to die like Jesus is a 14th century invention, as supported by the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia. [1]

According to legend, about 335, a monk, abbot or bishop named Regulus resided in Patras. In a dream he was told by a “divine being” that Emperor Constantine's agents were on their way to seize Saint Andrew’s relics and carry them off to Constantinople. 

Saint Andrew, Wrapped  in Tartan Glory 

Regulus was ordered to take whatever relics he could grab beyond the Empire's western borders. There he would be directed to a spot upon which to build a church where the relics could be venerated in safety. Regulus landed at Cill Rìmhinn in Pictland (later known as St. Andrews, Scotland) where he met the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergus (Óengus I), who gave Regulus permission to build his church.

There are two problems with this story: there is no historical evidence for anybody named Regulus in Patras at this time; and Óengus wasn’t born for another 350 or so years. However, alleged relics of Saint Andrew were kept in Constantinople at the Church of the Holy Apostles until stolen by Crusaders in 1204 (now in Amalfi, Italy), so there might some truth in this story.

More likely the relics were brought to Scotland by a Northumbrian Saxon Bishop named Acca of Hexham. He is known to have been in Rome, probably twice, and was said to have been given some unnamed relics to enhance his church in Hexham — a church dedicated to Saint Andrew. Acca was forced into exile around 730, taking the relics with him. According to some versions of the story, he took refuge in Pictland where he met the real Óengus. Acca then built a church at Cill Rìmhinn dedicated to Saint Regulus (later called Saint Rule in Scotland) where Saint Andrew’s relics were housed. [2] The relics are said to have been six in number, an upper arm bone, a knee cap, three finger bones and a tooth.

In 832 Óengus II was about to fight the invading Angles at the Battle of Athelstaneford. He was heavily outnumbered. According to legend, the night before the battle Óengus prayed to Saint Andrew, and promised that if the saint would grant him victory, Óengus would make him patron of all Scotland (remember, “Scotland” didn’t exist yet!). The next morning as the armies squared off, a huge X-shaped cloud appeared above the battlefield. Taking this as a sign of saintly support, the Picts charged into their enemies and slaughtered the Angles. Thus, the gentle Apostle Andrew became a Scottish war saint, as well as Scotland’s patron saint and protector. [3]


Saint Andrew was frequently used for political purposes by the Scots. The Athelstaneford myth was invoked by the Scots during their struggles against the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The Athelstaneford story is also the basis for the national flag of Scotland. Saint Andrew was used again by the Scots when the archbishops of York and Canterbury both claimed supremacy over Scotland’s churches. After hearing an appeal from the Scottish clergy claiming Saint Andrew’s favor, Pope Alexander III granted Glasgow’s diocese protection as “a special daughter of Rome” in 1175. That protection was later extended to most of Scotland. [4]

Saint Rule's Tower, St. Andrews (Jim Bain Photo, Wikipedia Commons)

By the 11th century, Saint Rule’s original church had been replaced by a Roman-style basilica, with a singularly ugly square tower 100’ high. As pilgrimage to Saint Andrew’s relics grew in popularity, this church was succeeded by an adjacent gothic cathedral, begun in 1158. Saint Rule’s church and its tower were retained within the cathedral complex. Pilgrimage soared, and St. Andrews became Scotland’s top pilgrim destination, the richest church in Scotland, and the first Scottish see raised to archbishopric level.

In June 1559, Protestant fire-brand John Knox preached an illegal sermon from the cathedral’s pulpit, then ordered his mob of zealots to destroy the cathedral, its shrines, and all the relics in one of the worst acts of vandalism during the entire Scottish reformation. [5] The church was so damaged it could never be used again. The buildings gradually collapsed and were mined for their stones. Today the remaining ruins are protected by Historic Environment Scotland. Ironically, Saint Rule’s tower is the most complete structure in the entire complex.

Scotland still has an active shrine to Saint Andrew. Edinburgh’s 19th century St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral (seat of the Catholic archbishop for all Scotland) houses the National Shrine of Saint Andrew. Two more recently donated relics are displayed behind glass below the altar. The shrine is usually open to the public except during general services. [6]


Saint Columba was an Irish monk and priest who founded one of the earliest and most successful monastic communities in what would eventually be Scotland. He was, however, just one among several missionaries active in the region during the 6th century.

Saint Columba was born circa 521 AD into a cadet branch of the powerful Uí Néill clan. As a youth he was educated and trained for the priesthood under Cruithnecan, and later Abbot Finnian of Morvilla. Columba was a fine scholar, talented musician, powerful preacher, and founder of several monastic houses. [7] 

Saint Columba, St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh (Author's Photo)   

He was also extremely arrogant, and did what he wanted no matter whose toes he stepped on. Columba never admitted he was wrong, and never apologized to anyone. In a famous incident, he returned to his teacher Finnian’s abbey to study a particular manuscript. Columba had permission to read the document, but not to make a copy, which he secretly did anyway. When Finnian learned of the copy, he was furious and drove Columba from the abbey. Their spat went all the way to Ireland's High King, who ruled in Finnian’s favor. [8] 

Eventually, Columba made so many enemies, he was summoned to a tribunal and threatened with excommunication. Somehow he wriggled out the charges. One of Columba’s few remaining friends recommended he take a long vacation from Ireland. Columba saw the wisdom in this, and decided to minister to the heathen Northern Picts (the “apostate” Southern Picts, who had been Christianized in Roman times, were already being re-evangelized by other missionaries). 

Columba obtained permission from the king of Dál Riata to settle in Argyle on the western coast of Scotland. Columba landed there with the requisite 12 followers, but didn’t like the new site. Possibly without permission, he packed up his disciples and sailed off to the tiny island of Hy in 563. [9] Today we know Hy as Iona, a speck of land about three miles long, a mile wide, and two miles west from the much larger Isle of Mull.

The Iona monastery was the first, and for years the only site of scholarship and literacy in the region. The monastery was famous for its scriptorium, which may have in part produced the famous 9th century Book of Kells[10] Workshops created carved stone crosses and grave slabs, as well as smaller goods such as the Monymusk Reliquary, thought to have held a relic of Saint Columba himself. The monastery was also a training school for missionary monks and priests.

Although Columba is credited with a few forays to the Northern Picts, he later left the missionary work to his followers. The Pictish mission was not a success, but the Northern Picts were later evangelized by other missionaries. Columba retired to his cell on a hill opposite the church, and spent the rest of his life writing and praying. He occasionally returned to Ireland to check on the other religious houses he had founded. When Columba died in 597 [11], he was buried at Iona and instantly proclaimed a saint.

Vikings began “visiting” Iona beginning in 795. They returned in 802, 806 and 825, and several times massacred most of the monks. Most surviving monks fled Iona. Some went to Kells Abbey in Ireland (a daughter house to Iona), taking part of Saint Columba’s relics with them. Other relics went first to Dunkeld in mainland Scotland, then were translated to St. Andrews. [12] Although all the saint’s bones are lost, two possible secondary relics survive: the Monymusk Reliquary [13] and a curiously shaped and uncomfortable-looking stone known as  “Columba’s Pillow”. 

Iona Abbey Today (Author's Photo)

The Iona monastery barely survived, with just an abbot and a handful of monks in residence. In 1203, Ranald, Lord of the Isles, invited Benedictine monks to take over. The Benedictines were  confronted by two very angry Irish bishops, a pair of equally irate Irish abbots, and several boatloads of armed men, who were not going to allow their saint’s foundation to fall into non-Irish hands. [14] The Irish bishops eventually came to a compromise and the Benedictines were allowed to share the island with the Irish monks. The Benedictines rebuilt the abbey into their usual cloistered style, and most of the surviving church dates to their occupancy.

The church was “cleansed” of its Catholic trappings around 1560. For many years it was used by a protestant Kirk of Scotland congregation until the building fell into ruin. In the 20th century the church was restored to its approximate medieval appearance, largely by volunteers using period materials and techniques. Today the abbey is owned by Historic Environment Scotland. Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian organization, hosts services and retreats in the church.


Saint Mungo in stained glass, University of Glasgow (Vysotski Photo; Wikipedia Commons)

Saint Kentigern, popularly known as Saint Mungo (“Dear Friend”), is a saint about whom few real facts are known. An 1186 vita written by Jocelyn of Furness draws from legends and an earlier work, adds miracles borrowed from other saints, all spiced with more than a dash of pure fantasy. Jocelyn’s work was a promotional piece for the Pope to justify Saint Mungo’s pilgrimage. Some of Jocelyn’s claims have been disproven, so the vita should only be read with great caution.

Mungo is thought to have been born about 518, probably in the Brithonic kingdom of Alt Clut (later called Strathclyde). This Cumbric-speaking kingdom’s capital was on the Rock of Dumbarton, and ruled lands as far east as modern Glasgow, north into the Highlands around Loch Lomond, and south into Galloway. [15] It was an area briefly controlled by the Romans after the Antonine Wall was built, and subject to Roman trade and cultural influence until they left Britain in 410 AD. The area may have been partly Christianized in the 4th century, and some practicing Christians might still have been active there when Mungo began his ministry. Others would have been the "apostate" Southern Picts that Columba scorned.


Jocelyn claimed Mungo was foster-fathered and educated by Saint Serf at his monastery in Culross, Fife. [16] Mungo was ordained in his 25th year, probably about 543, and began preaching and baptizing at what would someday become Glasgow. At some point during his early ministry Mungo was consecrated as a bishop.

Around 560 a pagan King of Alt Clut named Morken, or possibly Morcant, began persecuting Christians. [17] Mungo fled to Wales where he stayed with Bishop David of Mynyw, considered to be the evangelist to the Welsh. Mungo is said to have preached and founded churches under David’s leadership. Mungo’s exile ended about 573 when a later Christian king of Alt Clut, Rhydderch Hael (possibly Morcant’s brother), invited Mungo to resume his mission. [18] Mungo settled first at Hoddam in southern Galloway where Rhydderch Hael had a fortress, later returning to Glasgow.

Mungo spent his remaining days at his simple wooden church at Glasgow. The secular town grew next to Mungo’s church and monastery, and he is now considered Glasgow's founder as well as its patron saint. According to Jocelyn, Mungo died in his bath after mass [19] around 612 or 614. He was buried before the cathedral altar, and was instantly acclaimed a saint.

Saint Mungo’s tiny church was replaced by a stone church, itself later replaced by the ever-growing gothic cathedral begun in 1136, and still standing today. Each successive building phase centered on the Saint’s tomb, but as the church was on a hillside, the tomb ended up in the undercroft.

Pilgrimage to Saint Mungo’s tomb became very popular, eventually becoming the 3rd most important pilgrim shrine in Scotland. After his elevation to the See of Glasgow in 1174, Bishop Jocelyn of Glasgow, fresh from creating a pilgrimage to Saint Waltheof at Melrose Abbey, took charge of promoting Saint Mungo. It was Bishop Jocelyn who hired Jocelyn of Furness to write the flamboyant 1186 vita partly for the Pope, as saints could not be venerated or have a recognized pilgrimage unless first approved by Rome. [20]

The final church was intentionally designed, or redesigned, as a huge pilgrim processing machine. Pilgrims began their visit in the nave where there were numerous altars to various saints. Then the  pilgrims circled around the choir and chancel where an elaborate (but  possibly empty) feretory shrine to Saint Mungo was located behind the high altar. Next the pilgrims were routed down to the undercroft to worship at more shrines of various saints, ending at Saint Mungo’s actual tomb. By another stairway they returned to the nave and exited the building. [21]

Saint Mungo's Tomb,

Glasgow Cathedral

(Author's Photo)

There were at least three attempts to translate Saint Mungo to the feretory shrine behind the high altar. [22] This required papal approval, but was denied each time. The Saint’s body remained in the undercroft with its own shrine, unless (as some writers suspect) Bishop Jocelyn moved the relics without permission. Many believe Saint Mungo is still buried in the undercroft, though a cursory investigation of the tomb in 1898 was inconclusive. [23]

Saint Mungo’s Cathedral was “cleansed” of its altars and “papist” decoration in 1559. In 1578, Glasgow magistrates decided to tear the entire church down, and use the stone to build smaller protestant parish churches. When the wreckers arrived at the Cathedral, they were met by an angry mob of armed trade guild members who promised that whoever knocked down the first stone would be buried under it. The tradesmen would not leave until the wrecking crews had all been discharged. The tradesmen might have been solidly protestant, but this was THEIR church and they were not going to allow any more destruction. [24]

Today the restored Saint Mungo’s Cathedral (technically not a cathedral, as it is no longer a bishop’s seat) is owned by Historic Environment Scotland. The Cathedral is open to the public for an admission charge, and guided tours are offered. Regular (free) services are still held in the chancel area by a local protestant Kirk of Scotland parish.


Saint Margaret of Scotland, or Margaret of Wessex, was born in Hungary to English Prince Edward the Exile and a Hungarian noble woman named Agatha around 1047. [25] Her older sister Christina and younger brother Edgar the Atheling were also born in Hungary.

Saint Margaret, St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle (Author's Photo)

Edward returned to England in 1057 as the potential successor to Edward the Confessor. Within two days he was dead, possibly by assassination. [26] His family stayed on in the English court, as Edgar was now next in line.
On his deathbed Edward the Confessor named Harold Godwinson as protector of the kingdom. He was elected King by the other earls. Then Harold died at Hastings with a Norman arrow through the eye, and William, Duke of Normandy seized the crown.

Margaret’s family fled to northern England where support for Wessex was still strong. After a rising in 1068 was crushed by the Normans, Agatha decided to return the family to Hungary. They took a ship for the continent, but a storm forced them to land in Scotland.

King Malcolm III welcomed Margaret and her family, putting them under his protection. Malcolm was immediately smitten by Margaret, and began pestering her to marry him. Margaret at first refused. She had planned to take the veil (as Christine later did). Eventually she accepted Malcolm’s proposal, and in 1070 they married in Dunfirmline Abbey.

Margaret and Malcolm loved each other deeply, and enjoyed a happy marriage until their deaths just days apart in 1093. Margaret bore eight children, all living to adulthood. Among them were three successive Kings of Scotland, and a Queen Consort of England. [27]

Margaret’s decision to marry might have had a great deal to do with conditions in the Scottish church. She was horrified to see how backward and out of step Scotland’s practices were when compared with the Roman church. Some Scottish churches still used the Celtic Rite, and the clergy included many rather independent Culdee monks and priests, some married. The Scots even began Lent on a different date from Rome. [28]

Malcolm gave Margaret a free hand to make church reforms. She helped found new churches, attempted to reopen Iona Abbey, and expanded Dunfirmline Abbey, importing Benedictine monks from England to staff it. Although a ferry across the Firth of Forth was already operating, she added hostels at Queensferry North and Queensferry South for the use of pilgrims, and allowed them free passage on the ferry. [29] This saved pilgrims from the south more than a week of travel to Saint Andrew’s Cathedral (except on the many days when driech (foul) weather kept the ferry in port).

Margaret was also personally very pious, attending services every day. She spent much of her free time reading religious literature, including reading aloud to her illiterate husband Malcolm. Together they fed the poor, washed the feet of beggars, and supported widows and orphans.

On 13 November 1093, both Malcolm and his oldest son by Margaret were killed while laying siege to Alnwick Castle in Northumbria. Margaret was already bed-ridden and probably dying when she heard the tragic news on 16 November. She passed away shortly after hearing of their deaths. Margaret was buried before the altar in Dunfirmline Abbey, her favorite church. [30]

Saint Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle
(Author's Photo)

Margaret’s youngest son, King David I, built a tiny chapel dedicated to his mother within Edinburgh Castle. The chapel survives, now the oldest building in Edinburgh. After use as a gunpowder magazine for many years, the building was restored in the 20th century. Five stained glass windows grace the walls, one depicting Margaret.

Margaret's tomb made Dunfirmline Abbey a popular pilgrim stop on the route to Saint Andrew’s shrine. Thanks in part to a vita written by her confessor, Bishop Turgot of St. Andrews, Margaret was canonized, though not until 1249 by Pope Innocent IV. In 1259 her remains were moved to a new shrine in the abbey. [31]

Mary, Queen of Scots, had Saint Margaret’s head brought to her as a talisman during her pregnancy with her son (later the very protestant James VI of Scotland, aka James I of England). After Mary’s downfall, the head was smuggled out of Scotland and turned up at the Scottish Jesuit College in Douai, France. [32] The head, along with many other Scottish relics and important church records, was lost in the French Revolution.

The rest of Margaret’s remains, and Malcolm’s, were also smuggled out of Scotland during the Reformation. The relics were given to King Philip II of Spain, and were kept in a pair of urns at the Escorial Palace. The urns have since disappeared. [33]

1.  Herberman: CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA online edition.

2.  Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE IN MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND, pg. 53; See Rees: CELTIC SAINTS OF SCOTLAND, page 101 for a variation.

3.  Wikipedia: 

4.  Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE IN MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND, pages 18-19; Tabraham: GLASGOW CATHEDRAL, page 22.

5.  Barnet: FOOTPRINTS OF THE ANCIENT SCOTTISH CHURCH, page 12; Op. cit. Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, page 70.

6.  St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh web page:

7. Yeoman and Scott: IONA ABBEY AND NUNNERY, page 54.


9.  Op. Cit. Yeoman and Scott, pages 52-53; Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS, PASSIONATE WANDERERS, page 107-108.

10. Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS OF SCOTLAND, page 38; Meehan, page 10; Op. Cit. Yeoman and Scott, page 59.

11. Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS OF SCOTLAND, pages 23-24.

12. Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, page 80; Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS, PASSIONATE WANDERERS, page 113.

13. Clarkson: COLUMBA, page 209; Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, page 89.

14. Caldwell: MULL AND IONA, page 59; Yeoman and Scott: IONA ABBEY AND NUNNERY, page 64.

15. Map of Alt Clut / Strathclyde, circa 900:

16. Op. Cit. Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, pages 16, 18.

17. Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS OF SCOTLAND, pages 77-79; and Rees: CELTIC SAINTS, PASSIONATE WANDERERS, page 95. Wikipedia names the persecutor as “Morken”, but that name does not appear in other works consulted. Morcant is mentioned during this period in Clarkson: STRATHCLYDE, page 29. Morcant had a pretty unsavory reputation and might be the culprit.

18. Ibid, page 98.

19. Op. Cit. Rees: CELTIC SAINTS OF SCOTLAND, pages 81-82.

20. Op. Cit. Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, page 19.

21. Ibid, pages 22-24; Op. Cit., Tabraham, pages 26-27.

22. Ibid, page 27.

23. Op. Cit. Yeoman: PILGRIMAGE, page 27.

24. Burton: page 6.

25. Fairweather, page 14.


27. Op. Cit. Fairweather, page 22; see also

28. Turgot, pages 44-52.

29. Ibid, pages 59-60.

30. Ibid. pages 77-81; for a less flowery treatment, see Marshall, pages 12-13; Op. Cit. Fairweather, page 22.

31. Ibid, page 25; Yeoman, PILGRIMAGE, page 72, Op. Cit. Heberman. Some sources claim the translation was in 1250.

32. Ibid, page 73.

33. Op. Cit., Fairweather, page 27.


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