Saints, dedications and cults in mediaeval Fife
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A good deal has been written about the history of the Scottish Church, about Scottish saints and about church dedications in Scotland. Much of this has, however, been written by antiquarians who have often had a denominational or theological axe to grind, and the results are not useful in terms of scholarly or historical content. This thesis sets out to clear away those claims made about certain aspects of the Mediaeval Scottish Church, yet which are grounded on little, if any, reliable historical evidence. This is a regional study of that area of Scotland which was most active and influential in ecclesiastical terms throughout the Mediaeval period. I have tried, as far as is possible, to establish the identity of all those saints connected in some way with the Church in Fife. A careful study of pertinent extant sources has involved a personal assessment of what is reliable historical record and what is legendary fancy. This process has necessitated the elimination of certain saints from any list that is deemed to incorporate only those holy individuals whose identity can be confirmed from dependable documentary survivals. In some cases we can be sure that the saint existed, but in many instances we are left wondering whether we are dealing with an historical figure or an invented exemplar. Church dedications are often useful as evidence of the antiquity of a saint's cult or of his association with a particular region, but for them to be useful evidence it is necessary to establish the veracity of claims made for ancient church dedications to particular saints. This thesis tries to look at the role of a saint and at the content, management and function of a saint's cult. In focussing on ecclesiastical centres, and on particular pilgrimage centres, in one area of Scotland this thesis looks at saints, dedications and cults in their wider Scottish and European contexts. In specialising in one area it has been possible to note the wide geographical variety of influences on the Scottish Church whilst also emphasising the widespread influence which the Church in Fife had in the pre-Reformation era.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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