The bishops envisaged Scalan as an all-through College, one that would be both a Junior and a Senior seminary. It would take students from their early teens, when for five years they would study the typical Latin-based courses of a Scottish Grammar school as well as specifically religious courses. They would then proceed to the Senior stage, where after two years of Philosophy followed by three of Theology they would be ready for ordination to the priesthood in their mid-twenties.
In fact, however, the College very rarely fulfilled the role envisaged for it. In its eight decades of existence fewer than half a dozen priests received their entire training in it. These were the ones to whom Bishop Hay gave the, now well-known, description of "Heather Priests". One of them was Hugh MacDonald, later the first Vicar Apostolic of the Higland District. For the great majority it served as a Junior seminary only, from where students graduated to the Scots Colleges abroad for their senior courses and subsequent ordination. The photo shows the tree beyond which the first Scalan house was situated. The ruins beyond may have been one of the later buildings. The stream is the Crombie burn.