Saint Medan

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St Medan's Cave and Chapel, Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire; by Herbert Maxwell, 1885
Entrance to Inner Cell, St. Medan's Chapel, Kirkmaiden; by Herbert Maxwell, 1885
Old Kirkmaiden Church, Mull, Kirkmaiden Parish, Wigtownshire; photo by Jonathan Wilkins

Saint Medan was a saint, apparently of the early British or Irish period, whose existence and name are inferred from the name Kirkmaiden in Wigtownshire.

The occurrence and legend of Medan[edit]

A legend relates how the Saint (Princess Medena) with her nuns, is said to have travelled from Ireland to Scotland.[1]

See Mull of Galloway article on historic sites - Kirkmaiden Parish Church [2] It was also named lann Medainn [3]

There is a Kirkmaiden both in the southern tip in the Rinns of Wigtownshire at Mull, and also on the other side of Luce Bay in the parish of Glasserton near Monreith in the Machars, Wigtownshire in Scotland.[4] Nearby there is a golf course named St Medan's.[5]

The map in Blaeu's Atlas by Timothy Pont (died AD1613-1614) shows Kirk Madin.[6]

There was also a Kirkmadrine Church in the mid Rinns at Stoneykirk, Wigtownshire where there is a collection of the oldest Christian monuments outside Whithorn. The oldest is a pillar stone dating from the 5th Century. All the stones were found in the immediate vicinity suggesting it was an early Christian cemetery.[7]

Medan and "three companions"[edit]

St Medan is said to have been one of the "three companions" of St Drostan, the evangeliser of Aberdeenshire and founder of Deer Abbey.[8] St Drostan was entrusted at an early age to the care of St. Columba (see below), who trained him and gave him the monastic habit. Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne was a monk who was with St Columba and may have been one of the "three companions".

There is a St Medan's Well, originally thought to be a Celtic establishment, not far from the church at Kingoldrum Angus. There was Saint Medan who was associated with Angus.[9] The church at Kingoldrum in Angus, Scotland, which was given to Arbroath Abbey in AD1211-14 by William the Lion, was dedicated to St Medan.

Saint Kenneth, Cainnech of Aghaboe also called Canice, or Kenny, Latin Canicus, Gaelic Chainnech (born 515/516 or 521/527, Glengiven, County Londonderry, Ireland. —died 599/600, Aghaboe, County Leix; feast day October 11), Irish abbot, monastic founder, and missionary who contributed to the conversion of the Picts. Saint Medan was possibly with Saint Kenneth who was a close friend of Columba of Iona (and of Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire). Saint Kenneth accompanied Saint Columba to the Scottish mainland to help Christianize the Picts. Near Inverness they met the Pictish king Brude Mac Maelchon, whom Kenneth allegedly paralyzed with the sign of the cross when he threatened them; Brude and his kingdom subsequently were converted.

The name 'Medan[edit]

The name "Medan" sounds similar to the English word "maiden".

The name has been related to several women saints recorded elsewhere. The element "edan" is similar to "Etáin", a name occurring once in the 15th century in Scotland, and argued as the virgin saint of Tumna near Boyle in Co. Roscommon in the diocese of Elphin – though another authority derives Cill Medoin in the diocese of Tuam not from an apocryphal Saint Etáin but prosaically from the Irish for "middle church".

Again, the name may be a version of Modwena (Moninne or Darerca), who was abbess of Cill Sléibe Cuilinn in Killevy near Slieve Gullion and died on 5 July 517 or 519; it is said that she founded a number of churches in Scotland. There is a 1901 dedication to a female St Medan in Troon in Ayrshire.[10]

A male saint named Medan was buried at Bodmin Cornwall and perhaps commemorated at Tregavethan in Cornwall.

A male Modan is the saint of Rosneath, Falkirk, Kirkton of Airlie in Forfar, Fraserburgh and Fintray in Aberdeenshire, and Freswick in Caithness

The name is similar to a man's name, Muadán, which occurs in commemorations on both sides of the Irish Sea, including Glendaruel in Argyll, and has been glossed as a version of "my Aedan".

16 saints bore the name Aedan.

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne possibly born in Connacht, Ireland, was a monk at Saint Columba monastery on the Island of Iona in Scotland. Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland. St Columba was at Kirk-colm Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire and gave his name to Kirkcolm which is on the north Rinns whereas Kirkmaiden is on the south Rinns of Wigtownshire. On Timothy Pont's map, you can put your pointer on it and move it up from Kirkmaiden to see the location of Kirkcolm and also Kirkmadrine situated between the two.[6] Were Aiden and Drostan with Columba AD521-597 at Kirkcolm, about the time of the Kirkmadrine stones in Stoneykirk and about the time to Saint Medan in Kirkmaiden ?


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Home - Mull of Galloway". Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Scottish land-names; their origin and meaning". Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  4. ^ John MacQueen (2002), Place-Names in the Rhinns of Galloway and Luce Valley, Stranraer and District Local History Trust
  5. ^ accessed 31 Jan 2008
  6. ^ a b Timothy Pont's map in Blaeu's Atlas.
  7. ^ The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map. "Kirkmadrine Church Stones Early Christian Sculptured Stone : The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map:". Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  8. ^ accessed 31 Jan 2008
  9. ^ accessed 31 Jan 2008
  10. ^ accessed 31 Jan 2008