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Dunfallandy Stone

Dunfallandy Stone

Pitlochry Saints

The name of St. Colm at Moulin Market Ground recalls the well-founded assertion that Moulin, the first church in Atholl, was founded by St. Colm. The Book of Leinster, unfortunately, mentions no less than 209 saints of this name, so we have a problem on our hands. Some writers think he was a disciple of St. Ninian, who, after planting churches in the West Highlands, turned east and started the cause in Moulin. He died in 490 A.D. Colm, however, is a form of Columba, and St. Columba, we know, flourished at Dunkeld. Did the great Columba, of lona fame, move a mere dozen miles northward to the busy and important Pictish settlement at Moulin to establish Christianity, or did his follower St. Colman do this before he died in 676 A.D. ? We do not know. But a church was well and truly founded, which has continued in unbroken succession to the present day, at least thirteen hundred years of continuous Christian life.

About the same period a chapel was founded at Dunfallandy, an offshoot of Logierait, which had been planted by St. Cedd about 650 A.D. Somewhat later another chapel was built at Wester Clunie, and below it, by the side of the new road and within a stone’s-throw of the imposing new Memorial Arch of the Hydro-Electric Scheme, and the well-known Priest’s Stone, a red sandstone slab, showing an lona Cross, enriched with “cusped square angles,” and at one time the figure of
a warrior could be traced at the bottom of the Cross.

But the finest monument of the Celtic period lies at
the ancient mausoleum at Dunfallandy House. All the experts are unanimous as to its beauty and workmanship. The legend is that St. Triduana, a nun at the Priory of Restenneth near Forfar, was being forced into marriage with the son of the royal house, but she escaped to the quiet little chapel by the Tummel at Dunfallandy, and in gratitude for her escape she had this praying-stone erected to her patron saint. The Cross, the interlacing, the spiral bosses all bespeak the Celtic craftsman at his very best, and the Bestiary is indeed high art. The reverse side shows Christian symbols of a lower order of artistic genius. This may well have been carved at
a later period. Referring to the mounted figure, Ian Finlay,
in “Art in Scotland,” writes : “ It is one of the two supreme masterpieces in the animal carving of the Pict which, had they alone survived, would have entitled him to rank second to none in his art. Perfectly ccommodated to the cramped space available, with the cunning of the best heraldic art, it possesses also the sensitive line of the Altamira cavern paintings.”

We can see in this stone also an attempt to reconcile the new Christian faith with the old pagan past.

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