St Machan


St Machan, although far less well known, left a more permanent mark in this area: He gave his name to the little village Ecclesmachan: Eccles from the Greek word ecclesia or church so The Church of St Machan. Part of the evidence for this is that when they built a stone church on the site in the 12th century it was named after an obscure Celtic saint from the west indicating that it may well occupy an earlier Christian site where the church was built of wood. St Machan appears to come from the kingdom of Strathclyde, like St Ninian a Northern Briton However this time educated by the Gaels in Ireland before traveling to Rome for ordination as a bishop. After which he was sent back to evangelise his own people and the Picts. His cult appears to have focused the villages at the foot of the Campsie Hills and certainly his relics were buried in a stone church there in 1175 AD, with a side altar erected to him in Glasgow Cathedral in 1458 AD.The defeat of Gododdin and other Celtic warriors by Germanic (Anglian) invadors at the Battle of Catraeth around 600AD signaled the beginning of the end for Gododdin. In 638 AD its capital Din Eidyn (Edinburgh) fell to the Angles of Northumbria under their king Oswald. Abercorn became the centre of a Northumbrian diocese around 681 AD. All of which brings us to the third saint of our area St Cuthbert.

Importantly King Oswald had spent some time in exile on Iona (at this time part of a Gaelic (Irish) Scottish settlement on the North West coast of what was only later to become Scotland) and imbued the spirit of ‘Columban’ Christianity. As king of Northumbria he invited St Aiden to establish a mission notably at Melrose and Lindisfarne. The historical information we have on St Cuthbert is far more reliable than that on St Ninian (from well over 200 years earlier) and again much of it comes from the Venerable Bede; this time, however, only a generation or two away.

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