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Teneu Sant
Traprain Law 4.jpg
Traprain Law: the cliff from which Teneu was thrown
BornTraprain Law, Lothian (alleged)
Died6th or 7th century
Venerated inOrthodox Church; Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion
Feast18 July
PatronageGlasgow, Scotland

Teneu (or Thenew (Latin: Theneva), Thaney, Thanea, Denw, etc.) is a legendary Christian saint who was venerated in medieval Glasgow, Scotland. Traditionally she was a sixth-century Brittonic princess of the ancient kingdom of Gododdin (in what became Lothian) and the mother of Saint Kentigern, apostle to the Britons of Strathclyde and founder of the city of Glas Ghu (Glasgow). She and her son are regarded as the city's co-patrons, and Glasgow's St. Enoch Square allegedly marks the site of a medieval chapel dedicated to her, built on or near her grave ("St. Enoch" is in fact a corruption of "St. Teneu").[1] She is commemorated, annually, on 18 July .


In the first recorded hagiography of her son, her name is given as Thaney.[2] The Vita Kentigerni ("Life of Saint Mungo"),[3] which was commissioned by Bishop Jocelin of Glasgow and redacted later (circa 1185) by the monk Jocelyn of Furness (who claimed he rewrote it from an earlier Glasgow legend and an old Gaelic document), gives her name as Taneu; so does John Capgrave, printed 1516.[2] Variants include Thenewe, given by the Aberdeen Breviary; Thennow of Adam King's Calendar; and the Welsh Bonedd y Saint calls her Denyw (or Dwynwen).[2] In 1521, she appeared in John Mair's chronicle Historia Majoris Britanniae as Thametes, daughter of King Lot and sister of Gawain.[4] Sometimes her name is given as Thameta or Thenelis.


Saint Teneu has been described as "Scotland's first recorded rape victim, battered woman and unmarried mother".[2] Her son was conceived when the Welsh prince Owain mab Urien raped her. Owain was disguised as a woman, and after sexually assaulting the naïve princess, he confused her by saying: "Weep not, my sister, for I have not known thee as a man is used to know a virgin. Am I not a woman like thyself?"[5] Upon discovering her pregnancy, her angry father King Lleuddun sentenced her to death and she was hurled from Traprain Law. Miraculously she survived the fall; when discovered alive at the foot of the cliff, Teneu was set adrift in a coracle and travelled across the Firth of Forth to Culross, where she was given shelter at the community of Saint Serf. There she gave birth to and raised her son Kentigern, whom Serf nicknamed Mungo, "very dear one".

There are also Welsh legends about Teneu:

The cult which grew around St Thenew in Glasgow also developed in Wales where it was held that she had other sons by her marriage to the northern Prince Dingad, son of Nudd. The earliest surviving reference to her is in fact in the Life of St Winifred (c. 1140), in which Winifred, went to St Eleri for instruction. St Eleri put Winifred in the care of his mother "Theonia" whom Winifred eventually succeeded as abbess of Gwytherin (Clwyd). Kentigern was also a cult figure in Clwyd.[6]

Modern adaptations[edit]

She is the subject of Kathleen Herbert's historical novel, Bride of the Spear, part of her Dark Ages of Britain trilogy,[7][8][9] as Taniu, (1982, St Martin's Press), and of Nigel Tranter's historical novel Druid Sacrifice (1993, Hodder & Stoughton), as Thanea.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Glasgow Story: "St. Enoch's Church". Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Durkan, J. (2000). "What's in a Name? Thaney or Enoch". Innes Review. 51: 80–00. doi:10.3366/inr.2000.51.1.80.
  3. ^ The Vita Kentigerni
  4. ^ Bruce, Christopher. Entry "Thametes". The Arthurian Name Dictionary.
  5. ^ Schulenburg, Jane Tibbetts. Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100. Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 226.
  6. ^ Woolf, Alex. "The Glasgow Story: Saint Thenew". Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  7. ^ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2973409-bride-of-the-spear
  8. ^ http://carlanayland.blogspot.com/2013/03/bride-of-spear-by-kathleen-herbert.html
  9. ^ http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/interview-with-kathleen-herbert

External links[edit]