Letham celebrates twinning link with Monasterboice

Members of the Letham community recently celebrated the 1500th anniversary of the death of Saint Buithe, who is believed to have died on December 7, 521 AD.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 10:23am
Letham celebrates twinning link with Monasterboice
The party from Letham at Monasterboice in the summer of 2020.

Letham is twinned with Monasterboice in County Louth, Ireland and several members of the Letham Twinning Association joined their opposite numbers in a commemorative event held on Monday, December 6 ia Zoom.

The event was led by Father Patrick Rushe of Monasterboice and Rev. Allan Webster of Forfar, former minister of Dunnichen Letham and Kirkden parish, who was one of the founders of the twinning link.

Not many people have heard of Saint Buithe nor do they know that he is commemorated in the name of the village of Kirkbuddo (Caer Buithe) ‘ Buithe’s citadel’.

Buithe was a Scot, which is not to say he was born in Scotland but was ethnically one of the tribe of Scots who came originally from Antrim, crossed the Minch in the period around the 4th and 5th centuries and settled in what is now Argyll establishing the kingdom of Dalriada .

He appears to have gone to Rome to study but on his return to Scotland landed on the Angus coast .

He arrived in Scotland perhaps at the bidding of the then Pope, having been exhorted to undertake a mission to evangelize the heathen Picts.

Buithe is credited with converting the clan of Picts who lived around Dunnichen under the following circumstances:

When Buithe arrived at Dunnichen there was much sorrow and distress because the King Nechtan of the Picts was on his deathbed.

Some versions of the story say that it was not the king but his son who was gravely ill but the king himself.

Buithe, however, requested to see the invalid and miraculously cured him of his illness.

As a consequence the local Picts embraced Christianity and King Nechtan awarded Buithe land nearby for a religious foundation.

We know the site today as Kirkbuddo.

After Buithe felt that he had accomplished his work in Angus and he returned to Ireland .

The site of the monastery he founded at Monasterboice is an archaeological site of importance today with three remarkable High Crosses and a round tower like the one beside Brechin Cathedral.

It was this link with Monasterboice through Buithe which was the inspiration for the twinning link between Monasterboice and Letham in 2000 which has flourished ever since.

It has resulted in a succession of visits between the two communities and the formation of friendships.

Someone must have known about this piece of shared history when the Lowson Memorial Kirk in Forfar was erected early in the 20th century because one of the stained glass windows in the kirk shows Saint Buithe healing King Nechtan

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