Having taken the area of mid Deeside to include Banchory and Ballater and looked at all the saints we can find there, we are able to draw some conclusions. It is clear that the activity of the Christian evangelisers between the years 500 and 900 was very great, although not all of them can be proved to have been here. The period covers the closing years of the Pictish Kingdoms in Scotland, when St Columba began his mission in Western Scotland in 560 AD, which gradually spread to the East and Deeside, and shows itself in the carved stones of Migvie (St Finan), Formaston (St Adomnan), and Loch Kinord. Carved stones of a different type appear at Banchory, (St Ternan), Coldstone (St Nectan) and Balnagowan (called St Machar, but probably not). Most of this took place in the very final years of the Pictish kingdom, which ended in or about 843, when King Kenneth McAlpine united the Picts with the Gaels. This united kingdom altered the balance of power in Deeside from the Picts to the Gaels. The brand of Christianity had hitherto been Celtic, mostly brought by Gaelic speaking missionaries, and imparted to Pictish speaking inhabitants. By 900, it is surmised that the Pictish language had given way to Gaelic on Deeside and hence our Gaelic place names. But the Celtic brand of Christianity lived on and was not formally superseded by the Roman brand until the days of Queen Margaret in the 1060’s. The period from 500 to 900 has lived up to its reputation of being a very difficult period to understand because of the lack of evidence. But it has been interesting to us because it is our own home ground that we are looking at. And yet it is typical of the age, and much the same story could probably be written of any other area of Scotland of that period.
© Hugh Cochran 2012