The Glenbuchat Image Library
Unknown Year: 20108 St Walloch and Walloch Stone (celtic missionary)
St Walloch (Died about 733)
Stone at the church of Dunmeth in Glass
The higher reaches of the Don valley have been inhabited since Bronze Age times as far west as Corgarff. Lower down, an offshoot of the Don, the waters of the Buchat, have created a fine and fertile glen to the north of the ancient holy mountain of Strathdon - Ben Newe.
Saint Walloch was a celtic missionary whose principal church was at Logie-in-Mar amongst the pictish settlements of what became known as Cro-mar. Far to the north of Glenbuchat we see a solitary glimpse of the presence of the Celtic church at Kilvalauche, somewhere in the forest of Badeneoin (NJ 333190), which is mentioned in a charter of 1507.1 This name can hardly mean anything else than the church of St Walloch. From the same document we learn that Culbalauche, St Walloch's retreat, was in the neighbourhood. Prior to 1473 the Chapel of Glenbuchat was a dependancy of Logie-Mar, the link with St Walloch thus being given the strongest argument conceivable in its favour. Incidentally, confirmation seems to be obtained from a statement 2 that St Walloch, in addition to his other church foundations, at Dunmeth in Glass and at Balvenie, had a church site in Strathdon.
We have no trustworthy guidance as to the date of St Walloch's labours. The Aberdeen Breviary places him in the fifth century, while Camerarius fixes his death in the year 733. In the Breviary we are given an interesting account of St Walloch's mode of life, coupled with a highly unflattering picture of the folk he strove to convert:-
"He preferred a poor little house, woven together of reeds and wattles, to a royal palace. In this he led a life of poverty and humility, on all sides shunning the dignities of the world, that he might achieve to himself a higher reward in heaven. But the race whom he preferred to convert to the faith of Christ, and whom actually by his preaching and exhortation he did convert, no one would hesitate to describe as fierce, untamed, void of decency of manners and virtue, and incapable of easily listening to the word of truth, and their conversation was rather that of the brutes that perish than of men."
St Walloch is said to have been among the last of the missionaries to be sent to the north-east from St Ninian's centre at Whithorn (Candida Cassa). Though familiarly called "Walloch the foreigner", his origin and nationality are actually unknown. At his foundation at Logie-in-Mar there stands, at the gate and just outside the churchyard, a rough monolith about 5' 6" tall, known as Walloch's Stone. "Walloch's Fair" was a popular event in the district and was held on his Feast Day - 29th January.
One source 3 gives us a very different history saying that the saint whose name appears in a corrupted form as Wolok, latinised Volocus, is believed to be Fáelchú, 13th abbot of Hy (Iona) from 716 till 724. He sprang from the race of Conall Gulban, the ancestor of the famous lineage of Cenél Conaill and several of the saints of Ireland including St Columba himself. Born in 664, Fáelchú was seventy-three when, on Saturday, 29th August, he was called to the chair once occupied by St Columba. Indeed, it has been thought that Fedlimid, 14th abbot of Hy (722-?), was an assistant abbot appointed to take care of business because of Fáelchú's great age.
Walla Kirk (Walloch's Church), as the church of Dunmeth in Glass was called, stood in its burying-ground on the bank of the Deveron, but is now represented only by some mounds. It was held in superstitious regard even in post-reformation times for in 1648 the ministers of Strathbogie "ordanit to censure all superstitione at Wallak Kirk". About a hundred yards east of the church once flowed St Wallach's Well. On its margin lay a stone with a hollow in it, into which pins were dropped by health-seekers as offerings to the saint. As the result of agricultural improvements the spring has been drained, and the water gushes out further down the bank, where the stone now lies unheeded. In the neighbourhood of the graveyard, where a foot-bridge spans the Deveron, is Wallach Pot, a pool in the river said to be about fourteen feet deep. Fully a quarter of a mile further along the river bank is a long, trough-like hollow in the rock, known a St Wallach's Bath. Sickly children used to be dipped in its water. Pieces of their clothing and also coins were thrown into the bath as offerings. If there is any truth in the tradition that St Wallach's Hermitage stood on a neighbouring mound, he must, it is to be presumed, have arrived a number of years before he became abbot of Hy.
1. Registrum Magni Sigilli, 1424-1513, No. 3159.
2. David Camerarius, De Scotorum Fortitudine (1631) p.94
3. Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland, (1914) p. 143
From "Holy Wells in Scotland"
"The well and bath were quite recently in fame for their healing qualities. The well, which is about thirty yards below the old kirkyard, is now dry, except in very rainy weather, in consequence of the drainage of the field above it. It was frequented by people with sore eyes, and every one who went to it left a pin in a hole, which had been cut either by nature or art in a stone beside the well. Dr Duguid says he has seen this hole full of pins at the end of May. It was not thus on the saint's day, the 29th of January, but in May, that both the well and the bath were frequented, in late times at least. The bath is a cavity in the rock three or four feet deep, and is supplied by a small spring coming out of the brae about twenty yards above the bath, and the water trickles over the east end of the cavity, falling down the rock some four feet into the river. It was famed for curing children who were not thriving; and Dr Duguid says that when he first came to the parish hundreds of children were dipt in it every year, a rag, an old shirt, or a bib from the child's body, being hung on a tree beside the bath or thrown into it. When the Deveron was in flood it got into the bath, and swept all the offerings down to the sea. Dr Duguid adds that one person was this year (1874) brought
Preface to Chartulary of Aberdeen,
The legend in the Breviary of Aberdeen tells us that, in the 5th century, the blessed Volocus (St. Wolok or Wallach), the Bishop, a distinguished confessor of Christ, flourished with remarkable miracles in the northern parts of Scocia, and chose for himself a place of dwelling among the high rocks; that he voluntarily submitted him- self to the greatest hunger, thirst, and cold, living in a poor little house woven together of reeds and wattle ; that he laboured among a savage people, whom by his preaching, exhortation, and miracles, he converted to the faith of Christ, and that at length, in extreme old age, on the 4th of the Kalends of February, with angels standing round, his soul passed away to Christ, and that in his honour the parochial churches of Tumeth and Logy in Mar are dedicated. The writer of the ' View of the Diocese ' of Aberdeen re- presents Saint Wolok as the first bishop of Mortlach, and places the scene of his labours in the parochin of Dumeth. He confesses that in his 'Life' it is only said he preached in the North of Scotland, and lived among high rocks ; but he thinks he is right with the locality, because there is near to the church St. Wolok's well, and among the rocks on the banks of the Deveron, St. Wolok's baths, famous for the cure of various disorders. It has been satisfactorily proved that there never was a bishopric of Mortlach, and, except the name, there is no evidence connecting St. Wolok with the district.
Picture added on 26 January 2010 at 22:05
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