Saint Machar lived from around 540 until around 600. Little is known of him other than that he is said to have been one of the twelve companions of St Columba who sailed with him to Scotland in 563, and that he established a church in what is now Aberdeen in about 580 that later became St Machar's Cathedral. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
It is quite usual to find that the lives of the early Celtic saints are a little hazy, with the little that is known often deriving from accounts written many centuries later that owe more the the desire to prove someone worthy of sainthood than the desire to give an objective account of history. But even by the usual standards, St Machar is a very shadowy figure: it's even been suggested that Saint Machar and Saint Mungo may have been the same man, because their names are vaguely similar. If they were, then one of the two "facts" known about St Machar no longer fits, so for the rest of this feature we will assume he was a different man.
There are problems with the idea that Machar was one of Columba's companions, not least the lack of any reference to him in the records that exist about Columba, but again, let us suspend disbelief. If it is the case that Machar was one of Columba's companions, then, like many early Celtic missionaries, he was probably Irish, and probably of noble birth. He is said to have been baptized by St Coleman. Having helped Columba establish his monastery on Iona, Machar preached on the Isle of Mull, where he made a name for himself curing lepers. On one occasion he is said to have turned an aggressive wild boar into stone.
The story goes that Columba sent Machar to preach to the Picts of what is now north eastern Scotland, and to establish a church at a place where a river curved to form the shape of a bishop's crozier.This appears to have been on the site that since the 1100s has been occupied by St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen. Rather more recently, the Machar oil field in the North Sea was also named after him. His Feast day is on 12 November.