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8 healing stones of St. Fillan

Healing Stones of Saint Fillan

Saint Fillan worked in the communities surrounding Loch Ness.  One story says that he held up a cross and Nessie turned away from frighening worshippers.  Saint Fillan is more famous for his healing stones which are still in use today. These stones resemble the organs they are said to heal: eyes, kidneys, liver, lungs, heart.   The stones are at the Tweed Mill beside Dochart Falls near Killin.  For hours, contact Lynne or Paddy or Christine at the Tweed Mill tourist center there in Killin.

10166868 + 011 + number for international calls 

1010636 + 1 + number for national calls

The old meal mill, founded by St. Fillan (and containing the healing stones), is now a Folklore centre and home to the Tourist Information Office. St. Fillan was a follower of St. Columba and came to Killin around the end of the 7th century. He taught here and as tradition demands, every Christmas Eve St. Fillan's healing stones are given a fresh bed of straw and reeds from the riverbank.

Thanks are due to Sheila Clark for taking pictures and Janet
Quarton for getting them on to computer and sending them.
And to Jacqueline Comben for organizing the picture taking adventure.

st fillans stones visitors center mill wheel at visitors center
Tweed Mill Visitors Center The mill at the visitors center
St. Fillan's stone to heal head St. Fillan's stone to heal abdomen
St. Fillan's stone for head St. Fillan's stone for abdomen
St. Fillan St. Fillan's wolf
Saint Filllan Saint Fillan's Wolf
Fillan means 'wolf cub' or 'little wolf'. It is said that, once a wolf attacked while he was ploughing and killed one of his oxen.
The wolf returned and submitted to being yoked, helping Fillan
with the ploughing and the building of the priory.


Saint Fillan





St. Fillan's Crozier

Photo from



Scotland had at least two men called St. Fillan. One is famous for a healing well located between Comrie and Loch Earn. This is the one for whom the village of St. Fillans is name. Another was St. Fillan of Glen Dochart, who left behind 5 relics and 8 healing stones. This is the one whose story follows:


The name St. Fillan means wolf cub or little wolf. His mother was St. Kentigerna (a princess of Ulster,) and his father was Prince Federach. One lrish legend claims that St. Fillan was born with a stone in his mouth. His father saw the stone and threw the newborn baby into a lake where angels watched over him until Bishop Ibar rescued him. Bishop Ibar then raised him in the Christian faith. His mother, Kentigerna kept an eye on him as he was growing up. And out of gratitude to Bishop Ibar, she became a Christian.

When Fillan was studying to become a monk, he went to a monastery that forbade the use of candles in the sleeping quarters. Fillan did not want to stop reading at night, and as the story goes, his left arm and hand lit up, providing him light to read by. He retained this talent throughout his life and at his death, he requested that his left arm be kept as a relic in a silver case. This arm bone and hand is credited with Robert the Bruceís victory at Bannockburn which Freed Scotland from British rule.

Later Fillan and his mother both became missionaries and traveled to Scotland. Kentigerna went to Inch Cailleach (The Nunís Isle) on Loch Lomond where she died in 734 A.D. Fillan went to Glen Dochart.


He built a priory at what is now Kirktonís Farm in Auchtertyre near Tyndrum. According to one story, while St. Fillan was ploughing and building the priory, a wolf attacked and killed one of his oxen. Then, seeing that St. Fillan was doing holy work, the wolf volunteered to do the oxenís job and allowed himself to be harnessed to the plow. The priory fell into disuse after St. Fillanís death and the stones were taken to build farm buildings and walks. Flagstones from the chapel floor now cover graves. The well that St. Fillan blessed is said to still be active. To request a healing, petitioners are instructed to walk around the well three times and then throw in a pebble. St. Fillanís Holy Pool is also on this farm. A treatment for the insane used to require the person to be dunked in the River Fillan at the Holy Pool and then strapped to a bench inside the priory over night.

At his death, Fillan gave five symbols of his mission to lay brothers, who were required to act as custodians of the relics and to use them in appropriate circumstances, such as curing the sick or in the taking of oaths. The care of these relics was to be hereditary in the families of these custodians, called in Gaelic deoradh. At some point the name deoradh became anglicised as the surname Dewar. These custodians were given grants of land and special privileges which made them important dynasties in Glen Dochart and Strath Fillan. In addition to these five symbols, St. Fillan also left eight healing stones which are now kept at Tweed Mill in Killin. The big round stone which appears to have eyes and a smiling mouth is to treat head problems -- everything from eyesight and hearing loss to headaches from any cause. The stone with one indentation like a belly button is to treat the front of the body. The stone of similar shape, but without the belly button is to treat the back of the body. The five additional stones are to treat the arms and legs. People can come to the mill and hold the stones and rub them on afflicted parts of the body. The bed of leaves, twigs, and river wrack on which the stones rest is replaced every Christmas eve.

The five relics are The Quigrich, The Bernane, the Mayne, the Fergy and the Messer.

The Quigrich was his pastoral staff or crozier. Only the head now remains, and is on display in Scottish National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. Many generations of artists have added decorations to the silver work in acts of devotion.

The Bernane is St. Fillan's bell. The handle of this bell has a rough representation of a double-headed sea monster, from the centre of each head of which springs a single horn. According to tradition, this bell would come to St. Fillan whenever he called it. But one day a visitor who wasn't used to seeing bells flying through the air was startled and shot it with an arrow, cracking it. Another story about this bell occurred only about 200 years ago. An English tourist stole it. The bell was recovered by Bishop Forbes of Brechin 70 years later, in 1869, and moved to the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh for safe keeping. The Bernane was used in the coronation of James IV.

The Mayne is St. Fillan's left arm bone and hand. Robert the Bruce credited the intercession of St. Fillan with his victory against Alasdair McDougal at Dalrigh in 1306, where he won the battle, but lost his jeweled brooch, which McDougal showed to Queen Victoria as a trophy. Eight years later, he requested the custodian of the Mayne to bring it to him at the Battle of Bannockburn. The custodian however brought only the empty case, for fear that it might be stolen in battle, like the brooch. But the night before the battle, while Robert the Bruce was praying, he heard a loud crack come from the case. He called the custodian. Together, they opened the case and saw that the armbone and hand were inside. The custodian told his story and the divine intercession inspired the Scots to victory.


The Fergy and the Messer have been lost, and nobody is sure what they were. One is presumed to have been Fillan's Psalter (book of psalms) and the other a manuscript he wrote, or possibly a portable altar.



St. Fillanís death is recorded as 9th January 777 (Julian Calendar); which is the 20th Januarv (Gregorian Calendar). This date each year, is observed as the Saintís day and no work is carried out in the Breadlabane Folklore Centre. building on that day.



Flyer from the Folklore Center in Breadabane (the Tweed Mill)

In Famed Breadalbane. William A. Gillies, Clunie Press., 1938

Strange Tales of Perthshire. Margaret Campbell, Lang Syne 1900




More websites about Saint Fillan:

Saint Fillan was a member of the McNab clan:

Saint Fillan's Cave with holy well

Saint Fillan's glowing hand

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