The following is a brief overview of The Stone of Destiny: In Search of the Truth Buy the eBook and read the complete story

Chapter 5
St Fillan & Bannockburn

Introduction
Chapter 1 – Events Leading up to the Theft
Chapter 2 – The Legend: From Bethel to Scone
Chapter 3 – A Potted Pre-History of Scotland
Chapter 4 – The Coming of the Patron Saint
Chapter 5 – St Fillan & Bannockburn
Chapter 6 – The Stone of Destiny?
Chapter 7 – Finding the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel
Chapter 8 – Destiny in the 21st Century
Conclusions 

On 23rd June 1314, Maurice, Abbot of Inchaffray Abbey, is said to have carried with him the reliquary for the arm bone of St Fillan to the fields of Bannockburn. Fearing that the Scots might lose the battle and hence this important relic, he decided to take with him only the reliquary and not the arm bone itself, and made sure not to tell anybody, especially King Robert the Bruce, who would have rightly been furious at the doubter. Bruce then prayed for victory, but only to God and St Fillan, when a clicking sound was heard and the party turned round to see the arm reliquary lid close shut. Fearing that someone had just stolen the saints arm bone relic, they peered inside and, to the amazement of the Abbot, the arm bone was now miraculously inside the reliquary! St Fillan was obviously giving his blessing to the army and as the Scots attacked the English, success was ensured.

Whether or not the above is true we do not know, and also brought into conjecture is whether or not Bruce did actually pray to St Fillan, as the earliest accounts of the battle do not mention it, with it first appearing in writing over 100 years after the event. However, if there is any truth to the account, then we have to ask the question of who was St Fillan and why did Bruce revere this saint above all others?

The origin legend surrounding St Fillan is much like everything else, and cannot be cited with any degree of certainty. Briefly, he was a monk of Irish royal descent from Ulster and is said to have come to Scotland in the 7th or 8th century. He preached in and converted the area of Scotland called Glendochart, which is right in the centre of the country, which would have been the borderland between the Dalriadic Kingdom of the Scots on the western side of Alba/Scotland, and the Kingdom of the Picts on the eastern side. Interestingly, this was on the burial route of the kings from Scone to Iona. St Fillan was said to have been a leper, which is why some authors claim that Robert Bruce, who is also said to have suffered from leprosy, revered the saint.

There were five relics associated with St Fillan; the Bernane (Bell), the Quigrich (Crozier), the Fergy, the Maser and the Mayne. Each of these relics had a guardian assigned to it, who received a land holding in Glendochart and a hereditary title that comes down to us today as the name ‘Deuchar’, alternatively spelt ‘Dewar’. There is no certainty what the Fergy, Maser or Mayne relics were, but it is possible that the Fergy was the arm bone relic, the Maser was a cup/caldron and the Mayne was a stone. Amazingly, the Bell and the Crozier are still in existence and can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Rather curiously, St Fillan seems to have been pushed to the back of the importance queue of Celtic saints, even though his relics are the most documented and best preserved from history, with the hereditary titles and privileges being acknowledged and upheld by one king to the next. His Bell was even specifically requested by King James IV to be present at his coronation ceremony in 1477. If St Fillan’s arm bone was taken to Bannockburn, the most famous battle victory for the Scots, how come hardly anyone knows about this saint in modern times?

The signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 stated that the patron saint of Scotland was St Andrew, and yet no mention is made of either St Fillan or St Columba – the two Celtic saints whose relics are said to have been taken to Bannockburn just four years before. Why were the relics of St Andrew not also taken? These were supposed to be held at the cathedral in the town of Kirymont/St Andrews, which is much closer than Arbroath where St Columba’s relics came from! Surely St Andrew would have been a more appropriate saint for the Scots to pray to, especially in such a decisive battle as Bannockburn. St Andrew’s choice as patron saint over St Fillan or St Columba was purely a political move by the Scots to come into line with the Church of Rome and receive sympathy from the Pope in their plight against England.

There is much we do not know about St Fillan, but what can be said with certainty is that King Robert the Bruce held a special reverence for the saint. Between 1317-1318, Bruce built a new priory in Glendochart and dedicated it to St Fillan. The ruins of this site still exist today. This was a daughter house of Inchaffray Abbey (also a ruin still visible today) where, if the Bannockburn story is true, is the likely place for where the Fergy/arm relic was kept, and which in turn answered to Scone Abbey, where the Stone of Destiny was supposed to have been kept. The building of the priory at Glendochart just a few years after the victory at Bannockburn suggests that Bruce was repaying a favour to the saint, as the site was on the same land where St Fillan is supposed to have built his original chapel. There are some curious features about the area, such as the old cemetery sited to the north of the chapel that is more reminiscent of the old Celtic ways and not the later traditional Christian layout of churches, chapels and cemeteries. This suggests that the site is of some antiquity and was in use long before the erection of the priory by Bruce.

The Stone of Destiny is sometimes referred to as the Palladium of Scotland. A palladium is a symbol of a country’s strength and independence, deriving its name from a statue of Pallas, whose preservation was believed to ensure the safety of Troy. However, a country, especially one so used to praying to relics, would have many palladiums, each of differing status. It is therefore correct to state that the five relics of St Fillan were also palladiums of Scotland, and tradition tells us that if a person had a choice to either break an oath made on the Bible or an oath made on one of St Fillan’s relics, then they would choose to break the Bible oath every time, such was their prominence.

In relation to our story, we must now consider whether the stone that King Edward I took in 1296, and now residing in Edinburgh Castle, was what he was really after. Without doubt, Edward wanted possession of all of the palladiums of Scotland that he could get his hands on, so he could subjugate Scotland like he had previously done to Wales, but could it be that the stone he took is nothing more than a block of Perthshire sandstone, and if so, is there another artefact that demands to rightfully be called ‘the Stone of Destiny’?


 

Buy The Stone of Destiny as an eBook

Introduction
Chapter 1 – Events Leading up to the Theft
Chapter 2 – The Legend: From Bethel to Scone
Chapter 3 – A Potted Pre-History of Scotland
Chapter 4 – The Coming of the Patron Saint
Chapter 5 – St Fillan & Bannockburn
Chapter 6 – The Stone of Destiny?
Chapter 7 – Finding the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel
Chapter 8 – Destiny in the 21st Century
Conclusions  

 Copyright © 2007-2011 Mark Naples & David Bews

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