Nathalan (DNB00)

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NATHALAN or NAUCHLAN (d. 452?), Scottish saint, said to have been born at Tullich, Aberdeenshire, was well educated as a member of a noble family, but devoted himself wholly to divine contemplation, and adopted agriculture as an occupation best suited to this object. During a famine he distributed all the grain he had accumulated, and there being none left to sow the fields with, he sowed them with sand, which resulted in a plentiful and varied grain-crop. Subsequently, as a penance for murmuring against God, he bound his hand and leg together with a lock and iron chain, and threw the key into the Dee, with a vow not to release himself until he had visited Rome. Arrived there, he found the rusty key inside a fish he had bought, and the pope thereupon made him a bishop. Returning in his old age to Scotland, he founded the churches of Bothelney (now Meldrum), Collie (now Cowie), and Tullich, where he died and was buried. He is the patron saint of the churches he founded. At the old kirk of Bothelney is Naughlan's Well, and his name is preserved in Kilnaughlan in Islay, and by the fishermen of Cowie in the rhyme—

    Atween the kirk and the kirk-ford
    There lies Saint Nauchlan's hoard.

Dempster (Hist. Eccles. Scot. Bannatyne Club, ii. 504) attributes to Nathalan five treatises, none of which are extant.

According to Adam King's ‘Kalendar’ (given in Forbes, Scottish Saints, p. 141), Nathalan died on 8 Jan. 452; but Skene, Forbes, and O'Hanlon have identified him with Nechtanan or Nectani, an Irish saint, who appears in the ‘Felire’ of Oengus as ‘Nechtan from the East, from Alba,’ and is said to have been a disciple of St. Patrick (Tripartite Life, Rolls Ser. ii. 506), became abbot of Dungeimhin or Dungiven, and died in 677 according to the Four Masters, or 679 according to the ‘Annals of Tighearnach.’ But there were no less than four Irish saints of this name, and their chronology is very confused.

[O'Hanlon's Irish Saints, i. 127–30; Forbes's Kalendars of Scottish Saints, pp. 141, 417–19; Dempster's Historia Eccles. Gentis Scotorum (Bannatyne Club), ii. 504; Skene's Celtic Scotland, ii. 170; Colgan's Acta Sanctorum; Tripartite Life of St. Patrick; Dict. of Christian Biog.; Chambers's Days, i. 73.]

A. F. P.