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Early priests of Kettins

  IN TEALING PARISH CHURCH there is an old mural monument erected to the memory of a priest named Ingram. The name of Kettins appears on the inscription. Mr Alexander Hutcheson, F.S.A.(Scot.), an eminent antiquarian says of the monument; "this monument, as is well known, is believed to present the oldest existing inscription in the Scottish language and bears the date 1380. Inscriptions of that date and for long afterwards were usually in Latin. It is neatly cut in Old English or Gothic letters."

The inscription may be modernised as follows ;-

"Here lies Ingram of Kettins, priest, Master of Arts, Archdeacon of Dunkeld.

Made in his thirty second year. Pray for him who died having reached sixty years of age in the year of Christ 1380."

It is doubtful whether this is the correct reading as the phrase "Pray for him who died," may be a devout ascription of praise for Him (the Saviour) who died (for us).

The late Mr Hutcheson had a cast made of the monument and one was presented to Dundee Museum in 1894. Through the courtesy of the late Neil Graham Menzies of Hallyburton a cast was presented to Kettins Church which can now be seen in the Library.


We have very little precise information about the pre-Reformation priests of Kettins; in fact we know practically nothing but the names of a few of them. They appear as witnesses to the charters of Cupar Abbey of which Kettins was a subsidiary chapel. It would appear the priests and chaplains were in fairly regular attendance upon the abbots and appeared frequently at chapter meetings. The first name that appears in the charters is that of Ferbard, capellano de Ketenes, who was a witness to a charter of uncertain date but certainly before 1198. This provides proof of the existence of a church or chapel at Kettins, prior to the dedication by Bishop David de Bernham in 1249.


Another very early priest of Kettins was one Ingram, later of Tealing, a memorial tablet to whom provides us with the earliest inscription in the vernacular known in Scottish churches. A plaster cast of this tablet is now possessed by the Church of Kettins.

The name of Malcolm de Ketenes appears in a number of charters circa 1270-1271. The frequency with which his name occurs may indicate that he was a cleric of some importance in the neighbourhood.

A charter of Hugh de Ever, lord of Ketenes, granting a spring and certain water rights to the monks of Cupar, in the time of John Balliol, refers to the "land ot his abthane of Ketenes," a reference which is of considerable importance and interest as the term "abthane" denotes the site of a Celtic religious community. We may con­fidently assert then that Kettins was the site of a religious community in Celtic times and that it has had a long and continuous existence as a religious centre.