The History of Leith

September 19, 2007

Christianity in Medieval Scotland

The story of early Christianity in Scotland is as obscure as it is in Ireland. The earliest missionaries are traditionally Saint Ninian and Saint Columba. Ninian himself is now regarded as largely a construct of the Northumbrian church, after the Bernician takeover of Whithorn and conquest of southern Galloway. The name itself is a scribal corruption of Uinniau (‘n’s and ‘u’s look almost identical in early insular calligraphy), a saint of probable British extraction who is also known by the Gaelic equivalent of his name, Finnian.[1] St Columba, the most important saint of medieval Scots, was certainly Uinniau’s disciple. However, the earliest evidence of Christianity in northern Britain predates the respective floruit of either missionary. We can be sure that at least that all of northern Britain, except the Scandinavian far north and west was Christian by the tenth century. The most important factors for the conversion of Scotland were the Roman province of Britannia to the south, and later the so-called Gaelic or Celtic Christianity, an interlinked system of monasteries and aristocratic networks which combined to spread both Christianity and the Gaelic language amongst the Picts. for more click here

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