2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
Little outside legend is known about the VI Century martyr, Nectan, whose shrine at Hartland in Devonshire was a center of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Nectan is said to have been the eldest of the twenty-four children of the Welsh king and saint, Brychan. (Nectan is a Pictish name, and some believe he was a missionary from Ireland.) Seeking solitude, Nectan left Wales for Devon; many of his family followed him. He settled in the woods, and the family gathered as a group on the last day of the year. When two thieves took his two cows, the gift of a grateful swineherd, Nectan pursued them and tried to convert them to Christianity. They cut off his head, which he is supposed to have carried some distance before placing it upon a stone.
In the XI Century, his relics were translated from New Stoke, the site of his death to Hartland. The Augustinian canons restored the church and shrine in the following century and maintained both until the Dissolution.
Karen Rae Keck
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