8 Nov 2010

Priapic Worship in Medieval Scotland

The Lanercost Chronicle is a medieval history of events in Northern England and Scotland covering the period 1201 to 1346. For the year 1282, it contains the following evidence of pagan worship at Inverkeithing in the Scottish county of Fife:
"About this time, in Easter week, the parish priest of Inverkeithing, named John, revived the profane rites of Priapus, collecting young girls from the villages, and compelling them to dance in circles to [the honour of] Father Bacchus. When he had these females in a troop, out of sheer wantonness, he led the dance, carrying in front on a pole a representation of the human organs of reproduction, and singing and dancing himself like a mime, he viewed them all and stirred them to lust by filthy language. Those who held respectable matrimony in honour were scandalised by such a shameless performance, although they respected the parson because of the dignity of his rank. If anybody remonstrated kindly with him, he [the priest] became worse [than before], violently reviling him.

"And [whereas] the iniquity of some men manifestly brings them to justice, [so] in the same year, when his parishioners assembled according to custom in the church at dawn in Penance Week, at the hour of discipline he would insist that certain persons should prick with goads [others] stripped for penance. The burgesses, resenting the indignity inflicted upon them, turned upon its author; who, while he as author was defending his nefarious work, fell the same night pierced by a knife, God thus awarding him what he deserved for his wickedness."


  1. I find it very odd that a supposedly Scottish Pagan rite 'For the year 1282,' would know of, never mind be 'worshipping' a Greek God deity.

    I think that translation may be a little skewed

  2. It's filtered through the Christian Church with its Mediterranean bias. In cases like this they would use the term that the central authorities in Rome would know best.