John Geddes - The Cabrach and Scalan

When the young priest, John Geddes, arrived at his mission station in the Cabrach, He discovered that he was to share his house at Shenval with Bishop Hugh MacDonald, a great figure in Scottish Catholic History. He had been banished from the kingdom for being discovered as a priest present in Scotland which was forbidden by law, but it had more to do with him blessing the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan, something he did reluctantly aware of the probable outcome. After his trial, however, he had managed to slip back to the north. The Cabrach was not in his Highland District, but he was able to oversee it from there.


After three years Geddes was appointed rector of Scalan, the seminary hidden in the Braes of Glenlivet, founded in 1716, also forbidden by the spirit of the Penal Laws. It had gone through a bad patch. He established it as a centre of excellence in spiritual and academic terms and of human formation. The very building which was constructed under his supervision has been discovered by modern experts to be of the highest quality for its time. He even brought in the most up-to-date agricultural methods, because Scalan was part of a “fermtoun”.

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