An ancient path.
The first missionaries who came to found the church in Alyth were monks from the early Celtic Church. A reminder of these men remains in Alyth today in the name ‘Monks Wynd’, a short path which can be found leading from Chapel Street to the Alyth Burn where stepping stones aided travellers crossing the water.
Their faith believed in the importance of care for the environment, hospitality and higher learning. They had a high regard for women and children (especially orphans) and placed great value in pilgrimage to remote locations as a way of getting close to God.
It was also known as ‘Priesties Wynd’ according to accounts written by the Reverend James Meikle in 1918. The ‘priests’ were possibly later medieval priests (possibly monks from Coupar Angus Abbey) and would have been in regular communication with the diocesan Cathedral at Dunkeld. The path would have led from Alyth Church across the burn towards Blairgowrie and the route along the lochs road to Dunkeld.
The monks travelling this ancient route in the 6thcentury would have been clearly identifiable from their ‘tonsure’ - the method of cutting one’s hair which distinguished their social identity as men of the cloth - as well as the distinctive clothes they wore.
Their heads would have been shaven clean as far back as a straight line from ear to ear across the top of their head with the rest of their hair left long. This style of frontal tonsure particular to the Celtic Church is different to that of monks from the Roman Church, whose shaved circle on the crown of the head we are more familiar with from characters such as Friar Tuck in the Hollywood movies of Robin Hood.
Meikle, in his 'The History of Alyth Parish Church' (1933) wrote "The missionaries who came with the Gospel to Alyth... would wear white tunics, brown-hooded woollen cloaks, and sandals for the road; and with their other necessities they would carry a short staff.."