Insh

 

Associated Chapels: None known.

OS Ref: NH 836054   RCAHMS No: NH80NW 3

This church has for long been associated with St Adamnn (d. 704 AD) a relative, it is believed, of Colum Cille (St Columba). There was a church at Urquhart on the banks of Loch Ness which also bore his name. Adamnn is, of course, involved with the early history of the Brec Bennoch - the ancient reliquary supposed to have contained some of the remains of St Columba - known at times as the Monnymusk Reliquary. The church sits atop Tom Eunan (i.e. Adamnn's Mount), Eunan being a diminutive form of the saint's name.

In medieval times it was part of the Deanery of Strathspey. In 1226 under the re-organisation of the Chapter of the Cathedral by Bishop Andrew de Moravia, this church, along with that at Kingussie, formed a prebend of one of the canons.

This church was also linked to the family of Macpherson of Invereshie.

The present church was erected in 1792. Within it are preserved an ancient cast-bronze bell which possibly dates from the time of St Adamnn. An old tale tells of the mystical properties of this bell in that when once stolen it was heard to cry "Tom Eunan, Tom Eunan" until at last it flew back over the Dromochter Pass. There is also what is thought to be the original baptismal font preserved in the church. This site is steeped in history from the earliest of times. It is believed that the small island just opposite the church was the site of a for or 'dun' of a Pictish King 'Nechtan' and there are many instances of the name Dunaughton in the district. One Nechtan (Derelei) was the Pictish High King from 706-724 AD and it is tempting to link the fort with him. He tried to gain friendship with the English. In AD 711 they showed their feelings and appeared on the Moor of Mannan under Bertfrid, Osred's chief ealdorman. No victory is recorded for either side but both suffered heavily. However, Nechtan was a common name in Pictish times so we should not presume too much. What we may be certain about is that there was a Pictish community of some size here which prompted Adamnn to establish the church.

 

 
The church of Insh amidst the trees atop Tom Eunan.  

The old bronze saint's bell. A close-up of the bell showing the missing fragment.
 

At the west end of the present church there is a beautiful engraved glass window whose simplicity at once attracts your attention. It is the work of Helen Turner of the Edinburgh College of Art and is a copy of St John's Cross on the island of Iona where Adamnn was, himself, abbot from 679-704 AD. How much it is to be applauded that this friendly wee church is kept open to the public. It is still truly a place of peace and tranquillity within which the visitor can stop and pray, mingling with the spirits of the ancient Pictish times. It is a 'gem' of the Highlands.

At present Insh and Alvie parishes are united into one charge.

The very attractive interior of the present church showing the beautiful window at the west end.

 

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