Kentigern flourished in the 6th century, when one result of the troubles through
which the island had passed was a plain set-back to Christian teaching. Columba was
a younger contemporary. It was but a Christian remnant among the northern Britons,
though it included the local king, who selected Kentigern, as a young man, for their
bishop. His see he fixed in what was to be Glasgow. There arose in time a king of
a different persuasion, whose kin finally made it so hard for Kentigern that he had to
take refuge in Wales, where he remained till after the battle of Ardderyd in 573.
Ardderyd is clearly to be identified with a site on the south side of the River
Liddell, a plain "between Lidel and Carwanolow," ¹ the latter a small southern
tributary of the Esk. A victory for the Christianising party in British politics, it
raised Rederch or Rydderch "Hael" or "Roderec the Liberal" to the throne. His
Irish designation - his mother was Irish - was King of Alcluyd, "the rock by the
Clyde" or Dumbarton. ² So he and his successors are styled in the Irish annals.
Dumfriesshire preserves the name in Carruthers, "the caer (Brittonic) or fort of
Rydderch secured the return of the discreet and tactful Kentigern to his kingdom,
wherein the Christian religion had well-nigh perished. What thus amounted to a
fresh missionary effort had its beginning on the haugh of Hoddom, ³ where King
Rydderch and a multitude of the people met the returning apostle, who forthwith
addressed the gathering, assuring them that their idols were the work of men's hands,
that the elements that they deified were but instruments of their Maker, and that
Woden whom they, and especially the Angles, worshipped was probably once merely
a mortal king of the Saxons. This adoption of Woden by a Celtic people indicates a
change of religion which was a tribute to Saxon success in conquest. An edifying
miracle occurred when the flat where Kentigern was placed rose into a not incon-
siderable little hill, ⁴ and as such it remained in the days of the narrator, the 12th
century, and presumably ever since. Possibly, therefore, Trailtrow Hill overlooking
Hoddom, where a graveyard still exists in a not very suitable situation because a chapel
once stood there, may mark the place of the preaching of Kentigern: old Hoddom
Church was by the river bank (No. 271). For a time, too, "Holdelm" was further
honoured by being made the bishop's see, where churches were constituted and clergy
ordained. Hoddom was thus an ecclesiastical centre of much importance during a
brief period, till circumstances secured the re-establishment of the see in Kentigern's
"own city of Glasgow." ⁵
We are told by his biographer that it was the custom of Kentigern to erect a
cross - of stone presumably in his opinion, since the two specifically mentioned
are of stone - in any place where he had made converts or had lived for some time. ⁶
Certainly the crosses and fragments of crosses in Dumfriesshire make a remarkable
group, and those formerly standing at Hoddom are, no doubt, due to the saint's
special connection with that neighbourhood, though their date is much later in time.
Kentigern's crosses, like that of King Oswald in Bernicia as late as 635, were in all
probability of wood. ⁷ And before Oswald's cross there was no outward sign of the
Christian faith in that province.

1 Scotichronicon, bk. iii. cap. xxxi.
2 "Petra Cloithe" in Adamnan's Vita Columbæ.
3 "in planitie campi, vocabulo Holdelm," Vita Kentig., cap. xxxii.
4 "monticulum altum," ibid.
5 Ibid., cap. xxxiii.
6 Ibid., cap. xli.
7 Bede, Eccl. Hist., iii. cap.2. But in the 12th-century biography he is credited with a great cross
of stone at Glasgow and another miraculously made from sea-sand (de sola arena maris) at "Lothever-
werd" (Vita Kentig., cap. xli).

-- xxi -- c

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