St Duthac, or Duthus, or Duthak, lived from 1000 to 1065. He is the patron saint of Tain, and was an important figure in the Celtic Church in Ireland. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Duthac is thought to have been born in Tain in about 1000. He was educated in Ireland and went on to become a renowned preacher who attracted a considerable following. He was regarded as sufficiently important for his death to be reported in "The Annals of Ulster" for the year 1065. Tales of miracles soon grew up around the memory of Duthac. One story related how as a boy he had been sent to collect hot coals from the local smithy. The smith simply placed the hot coals in Duthac's lap, whereupon the boy carried them to his master without ill effect.
In June 1253 St Duthac's remains, said to have been uncorrupted by the passage of two centuries since his death, were returned to Tain and buried in the original St Duthac's Chapel, built on the site of his birth. Its ruins lies on the north east side of the town, in the old town cemetery and near the golf club. This first chapel rapidly became a place of pilgrimage and of sanctuary, though the latter was marked more in its breach than in its adherence. Robert the Bruce's family took shelter here en route to Orkney during his exile. But the Earl of Ross took them prisoner anyway, and handed them over to a grisly fate at the hands of the English in 1307.
This idea of sanctuary also led to the chapel's demise, in 1427. A local outlaw had pursued an enemy into the chapel, and overcame the technicality of sanctuary by burning it down. St Duthac's relics were then transferred to St Duthac's Collegiate Church, in the centre of Tain. This had been built in 1360 on the site of an earlier church, part of which still remains in the churchyard. The Collegiate Church then also became the focus of pilgrimage, and in the years around 1500, King James IV visited every year for 20 years.
St Duthac's remains disappeared during the chaos of the Reformation in 1560. Today it is still possible to visit the original chapel, now within a graveyard overlooking the sea. St Duthac's Memorial Church in the centre of Tain may also be visited.