Whisky Magazine Issue 18
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Despite the advance of time, Tain continues to be a sacred destination for pilgrims the world over. John Lamond believes Glenmorangie Distillery may be a reason for the area's continued popularity
The town of Tain in Easter Ross has long been a place of pilgrimage. At Morangie, on the outskirts of the burgh around the 8th century, a Celtic church was built which was one of the centres of the Columban Church.
The sanctuary of Saint Duthac, an Irishman who became the Bishop of Ross, was established within Tain itself in the 11th century. He died in 1065 and the sanctuary containing his relics was destroyed by fire during the 16th century.
Fearn Abbey was founded about 1223 when Fearchar, the Earl of Ross was challenged by the English Court Champion to a duel. Fearchar made a vow to found a religious house in the event of his victory. To Fearchar and Alexander II's (the Scottish king) relief, he won. The ruins of the abbey can still be seen close to Glenmorangie House.
During the 15th century, James IV of Scotland made regular pilgrimages to the shrine of Saint Duthac – rumours suggest that he actually went there to see a local girl instead! His grandfather, James III, had collaborated with the Bishop of
Ross in giving the sanctuary formal constitution and such conspicuous royal favour went a long way towards further promoting the popularity of the shrine.
“Yes, enough!” you cry. “This is Whisky Magazine! What has all this to do with Scotch?” Patience, patience.
People continue to make pilgrimages to Tain, but the object of these modern day pilgrimages is not an ancient ruin, nor a sacred pile of bones, but the cathedral like still-house at Glenmorangie Dis...