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Saint Drostan
Died~7th century
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion & Eastern Orthodox Church
Major shrineNew Aberdour
FeastJuly 11; December 15

Saint Drostan (d. early 7th century), also Drustan, was the founder and abbot of the monastery of Old Deer in Aberdeenshire. His relics were translated to the church at New Aberdour and his holy well lies nearby.


A Scottish abbot who flourished about A.D. 600. All that is known of him is found in the "Breviarium Aberdonense" and in the "Book of Deer", a ninth-century manuscript. now in the Cambridge University Library, but these two accounts do not agree in every particular. He appears to have belonged to the royal family of the Scoti, his father's name being Cosgrach. Showing signs of a religious vocation he was entrusted at an early age to the care of St. Columba, who trained him and gave him the monastic habit.

Drostan was one of the twelve companions who sailed from Ireland to Scotland around 563 with St Columba. These twelve became known as the 'Brethren of St Columba'.[1] He accompanied that saint when he visited Aberdour in Buchan, about 45 miles from Aberdeen.

According to the Celtic legend St. Columcille, his disciple Drostan, and others, went from 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.[2]

The Pictish ruler of that country gave them the site of Deir, fourteen miles farther inland, where they established a monastery, and when St. Columba returned to Iona he left St. Drostan there as abbot of the new foundation which some sources say received royal support because of its proximity to the Pictish capital of Craig Phadrig, near Inverness.[3] On the death of the Abbot of Dalquhongale (Holywood) some few years later, St. Drostan was chosen to succeed him. Afterwards, feeling called to a life of greater seclusion, he resigned his abbacy, went farther north, and became a hermit at Glenesk. Here his sanctity attracted the poor and needy, and many miracles are ascribed to him, including the restoration of sight to a priest named Symon.

St. Drostan is credited as being the founder of the Chapel of St. Tear near Ackergill in Wick parish on the east coast of Caithness. It has been speculated that the name Tear might be a variant of Deer.[4]

When St. Drostan died at Glen Esk his remains were conveyed back to Aberdour where they were deposited in a 'tumba lapidea' or stone coffin. Here his bones were said to work miraculous cures upon the sick and afflicted.[5] The Breviary of Aberdeen celebrates his feast on 15 December. The monastery of Old Deer, which had fallen into decay, was rebuilt for Cistercian monks in 1213 and so continued until the Reformation.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "St Drostan's Kirkyard, Insch", Aberdeenshore Council
  2. ^ Mershman, Francis. "Abbey of Deer." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 13 May 2013
  3. ^ "St. Drostan of Deer, 15 December" Feasts, Fasts, Saints and the Medieval Church. December 14, 2012
  4. ^ Myatt, Leslie J. "St Drostan in Caithness". Caithness.Org. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ "History", Aberdour St. Drostan's Church
  6. ^ Alston, George Cyprian. "St. Drostan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 13 May 2013


  • "St. Drostan", The Oxford Dictionary of Saints; ed. David Hugh Farmer; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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