As you approach the site along the West Island Way, you enter by way of a gap in vallum surrounding the ancient monastery. To your left is the remains of the stone base of a cross. Pass through the wall into the sanctuary and you move into a time 1400 years ago. The site has a special feel, a peace, almost a serenity that comes from its long association with Christian worship.
St Blane’s is one of the earliest, and probably one of the most important, early medieval monasteries in Scotland.
Here you are among the roots of Christianity in Scotland. This site is little spoken about but hugely significant in the story of evangelism in Scotland. While Columba worked through Iona, preaching to the Northern Picts, St Blane built on the monastery established by his uncle St Catan. St Blane travelled into central Scotland as far as Dunblane where he established the church which became the Cathedral.
St Blane’s is the best preserved of the surviving early Christian sites on Bute. Tradition holds that a monastery was founded here by St Catan in the late AD 500s. The story tells that his sister Ertha became pregnant by an unknown man, and Catan cast her and her baby, Blane, adrift. They eventually washed up in Ulster, where Blane grew up at St Congarth’s monastery at Bangor.
Blane returned to Bute and succeeded St Catan as abbot of the monastery and bishop of the area until his death in around AD 590.
Surviving remnants of that 1,400-year-old monastery include:
- a stone wall separating the secular world from the spiritual
- foundations of numerous circular buildings
- a well
- a stone base which would have once supported a stone cross
This is an extract of the full detail of the site, which can be found on the Historic Scotland site: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/st-blanes-church/history/
Think as you go
There are no words for this place – simply let it speak to you. Rest here.
The Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
As you go into the world again please leave nothing but footprints on this ancient and very special place. Thank you.