Celtic and Old English Saints          11 July

* St. Drostan of Dalcongail
* St. Turketil of Crowland

St. Drostan, Abbot of Dalcongail, Aberdeenshire

Died.c. 610.

Irish born abbot, a disciple and nephew of the great Saint Columcille
(Columba), Drostan was a Prince of the royal blood, a member of the
royal Cosgrach family of Ireland. He was named the first Abbot of Deer
in Arberdeenshire (Dalcongaile). The early monastery of rude wooden
huts stood in the elbow of the river bank behind the present Parish
Church on the village of Old Deer.

Deer has long been the common spelling but Deir prevails in the oldest
writing. One tradition has the name coming from De a'r', a contraction
of De adhra - the worship of Good. Dair or Daire in old Gaelic and
Irish is an oak, and since the area was covered in oak forests in the
6th century, the name may simply mean Oakwood.

A much more romantic legend, and the one most people prefer to accept,
has it deriving from Deira, Gaelic for "tears", telling how Columba
observed a tear on the cheek of his nephew Drostan when he took his
leave and declared "This shall be known as the place of tears" - that is

In his old age St. Drostan lived as a recluse in a forest. He reposed in
809 near Glenesk, Angus. His is considered an apostle to Scotland.

His sacred remains were deposited in a stone coffin at Aberdeen. There
is a well is associated with him at Aberdour.

The Abbey of Deer
A once famous Scotch monastery. According to the Celtic legend St.
Columcille, his disciple Drostan, and others, went from Hy (Iona) into
Buchan and established an important missionary centre at Deer on the
banks of the Ugie on lands given him by the mormaer or chief of the
district whose son he had by his prayers freed of a dangerous illness.
This happened probably in the last quarter of the sixth century.
Columcille soon after continued his missionary journeys and left Drostan
as abbot at Deer. Drostan died here about 606. The legend receives
confirmation from the fact that the parish of Aberdour venerated St.
Drostan as patron. In later years the Normans had little sympathy with
the Celtic institutions, so we find the Earl of Buchan in 1219 founding
the Cistercian abbey of New Deer about two miles westward of
Columcille's foundation, granting to the new abbey a portion of the
lands of Old Deer, the rest going to the maintenance of a parochial

More at

About Saint Drostan

The Book of Deer
by Roy Ellsworth and Peter Beresford Ellis
(Library of Celtic Illuminated Manuscripts, Constable, 1994). PB; 79 ps

Information and photographs of the Book of Dear

Some pages from the Book of Deer

Troparion of St Drostan tone 2
Abbot of Deer and disciple of Saint Colum Cille,/ who didst kindle
Christ's fire in the hearts of thy monks,/ pray for us, O Drostan, to
Christ our God,/ that our souls may be saved.

St. Turketil, Abbot of Crowland, Lincolnshire
The Abbey at Croyland had been destroyed by Danes in 870. In this
devastation the relics of Ss. Egbat,Tatwin,Bettelina & Ethedrith were
lost and possibly reduced to ashes.

Then Turketill, the pious Chancellor of King Edred rebuilt the Abbey in
946. He was cousin to Athelstan, Edmund & Edred(all successive kings).
He was the son of Ethelward. He was an accomplished General and won many
a battle against the Danes and extricated his cousins out of many
scrapes. He wearied of public life, gave 60 of his manors to the King
and 6 to Croyland, and paid off all his debts. He then went to Croyland
and took the habit. He was made Abbot in 948. He restored the house to
greatest splendour and having served God in that place for 27 years died
of a fever in 975 aged 68 ('Lives of the Saints' by Butler).

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