The bishopric of Brechin and church organisation in Angus and the Mearns in the central Middle Ages

Gray, Catriona Anna (2013) The bishopric of Brechin and church organisation in Angus and the Mearns in the central Middle Ages. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The bishopric of Brechin has long been viewed as something of an anomaly among the dioceses of medieval Scotland. Its bishops exercised authority over churches and lands in Angus and the Mearns, yet this territory was shared with the much larger diocese of St Andrews, and to a much lesser extent those of Dunkeld and Aberdeen. This complex pattern of landholding and lordship persisted right up until the Reformation and it is a situation unparalleled elsewhere in medieval Scotland. However, although its oddness has been noted by many, scholarly engagement with this area has been limited, focussing mainly on the Céli Dé community and hereditary abbatial family associated with the church at Brechin in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

This thesis examines the bishopric of Brechin in the context of wider church organisation in Angus and the Mearns in the central Middle Ages, seeking to find explanations for its seemingly unique development. The problem is approached from a number of different perspectives: by considering the context of secular lordship in Angus and the Mearns; by examining the parishes and churches which made up the bishopric of Brechin; by exploring saintly commemorations and church dedications, not only in the diocese of Brechin, but throughout Angus and the Mearns; and finally by carrying out a case-study of one of Brechin’s most important churches, that of the burgh of Montrose.

This multi-faceted approach demonstrates that the bishopric of Brechin had strong links with the secular lordship of Brechin, the wider holdings of Earl David of Huntingdon in Angus and the Mearns, and indeed with kings of Scots. It also highlights connections between diocesan organisation and a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, a veneration present in Brechin from the early Middle Ages. In addition to this, a picture emerges of the nearby church of Montrose having been an important ecclesiastical focus to rival Brechin.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Brechin, Angus and Mearns, Montrose, bishopric, church, history, medieval, church organisation, saints, parishes
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Clancy, Professor Thomas Owen and Broun, Professor Dauvit
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Miss Catriona A Gray
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5125
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 May 2014 13:35
Last Modified: 01 May 2014 13:35

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