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Fowlis Wester, St Bean's Church

Fowlis Wester, about 6km east of Crieff takes it's name from the Gaelic folais meaning 'small stream'. The village is tiny now, maybe 30 houses, but it has a long history. Ancient burial mounds and standing stones are spread across this part of Strathearn. In more recent times the main road from Perth passed through Fowlis Wester and around 1800 this was a thriving community with shops and tradesmen. Now the village lies in a hollow north of the present main road from which it cannot be seen.

The restored 13thC Church of St Bean (d.720) lies in Fowlis Wester. He was grandson of the King of Leinster, Ireland, and preached among the Picts in this area. There has been a church on this site since those times. The Picts had been converted to Christianity almost two centuries earier. The present restored church was originally built by the ancient Celtic Earl of Strathearn.

One interesting feature, common in churches of this age, is a leper's squint - a special window from where the afflicted could watch the proceedings without coming into contact with the rest of the congregation.

Outside the church, on the village green, is a 3M high replica of a Pictish slab-cross. The original and one other smaller slab-cross are housed inside the church. They probably date from the 8th or 9th century.

The larger shows two horsemen and animals on one side and on the other, a man leading a cow with a bell followed by other 6 men. The precise meaning and symbolism lost in time.

The smaller cross is in better condition and show two ancient priests seated on ornate chairs with others standing below. (Left)

Above the cross is a depiction of Jonah and the whale (right). The crosses themselves are exquisite 'classic' Celtic patterns.

The Church also contains a piece of McBean tartan which astronaut Alan McBean took to the moon and back.

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