An interesting question again Fiona! I can’t answer this question either but here’s a few points to consider? The first question is: what is the definition of a monastery versus a church or chapel at this period? It's difficult to define, but I’d suggest a monastery is a centre where several monks are permanently housed and crafts and agriculture undertaken, while a church might just be manned by one person or by itinerant monks from a nearby base. So I think your question should be broken into two – Was there a Pictish monastery here? And secondly, was there a chapel here? The answer to the first is almost definitely no, as you point out, most large churches and monasteries in Pictland do have evidence of carved stones, and most of them seem to continue on into historical times. But more critically, monasteries were major royal patronage centres, given political protection and voted a lot of resources, and they wouldn’t normally be established so close together, as Kinloss and Kinneddar. The only possible scenario might be if Kinloss was a female nunnery partnered with a male group at Kinneddar, but that’s pure speculation, no evidence for it.

But was there a chapel at Kinloss? I think the jury is out on that one, because there is that fragment, waterworn, but I’m struggling to see it having moved under its own steam from Kinneddar, it’s more likely to be from a chapel somewhere in this Kinloss area. This is supported by the other small memorial stone at Achareidh, which is possibly another small church, both of them governed by Kinneddar. (The same pattern is seen in the south too, where there is a definite centre for carving and burials, but one or two at outlying chapels). But then, if there was a small chapel somewhere near Kinloss, then it’s going to be dated between four or five centuries before the later monastery, and with all the chaos of the Viking years between, so I’m not sure it’s easy to draw a direct line between a possible small chapel of no note and the later monastery half a millenium later, even if they were on the same spot.

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May 14Liked by Fiona Campbell-Howes

Hi Fiona,

Usual post blog post musings…..

I would support your view that there was an earlier church at Kinloss as this was the case with most of the other abbeys. Think Jedburgh, Melrose et al. The most important thing to incoming monks was not immediate building but where could they undertake their primary function, the glorification of God, whilst they were building their model church? Thus they needed a pre-existing church to be at hand.

On Kinloss etymology, I’ve never bought the traditional foundation story as it always struck me as an example of “sounds like” etymology (King lost/Kinloss).

Another alternative I have pondered is whether the Loss that we’re at the head of is the Loxa/Lossie? That river has wandered quite far over the years and certainly ran into Spynie Loch at one time. The Loxa/Loch may well have extended as far west as Grange Hill/Miltonhill , emptying into Findhorn Bay with Kinloss Burn being a vestige of what was once a much greater water channel

Just my tuppence worth as usual

Keep it up!

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I love your posts, they are always so interesting!

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