Saint Ternan (fifth century?) is venerated as the "Bishop of the Picts." Not much is known of his life. He may have been consecrated by St. Palladius. Some scholars believe that he may have been a monk at Culross, which had been founded by St. Serf, and that he was a contemporary of Serf. Others state that he was a follower of St. Ninian.
Ternan, is believed to have been born in Fordoun in Angus about AD 440. He established a small monastery on the north side of the River Dee near the current graveyard in what is now the town of Banchory. As well as preaching the Christian gospel, he and his followers taught the local people farming, arts and crafts. Churches in Banchory and surrounding area bear the name of St Ternan.
The story of Ternan features two key artifacts, his copy of Matthew's Gospel and his bell or "Ronnecht":
The "Aberdeen Martyrology" mentions "the Gospel of Matthew belonging to St. Ternan", which was enshrined in a metal case or cumdach (book shrine)and is said to have remained in Banchory until the reformation. The bell has an altogether more interesting story. It is said to have been brought to Banchory from Rome by Ternan, and is last recorded as being transferred to the custody of Alexander Symson, vicare of Banquhoriterne in 1491. When the glebe being excavated for the railway in 1863 an old bronze bell was found. It is not clear if this really is Ternan's bell, but it now hangs on the front wall of Banchory Ternan East Church as a visible reminder of the debt that is owed to this early pioneer of Christianity in Scotland
He is mentioned, along with Saints Brendan, Michael etc., in some blessings and incantations, such as the milking croon from South Uist, collected by Alexander Carmichael in the Hebrides in the 1880s.
- About Banchory - A New Descriptive and Historical Guide, Dr Gordon Walkden, 1987
- Banchory Ternan East Parish Parish Church (official website)
- Banchory Community Website - St Ternan history page
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