Six links of an old iron chain survive in the Stirling Smith Collections – all that is left of the chain which bound those with a mental illness at the healing pool of St.Fillan near Killin.
The Irish monk St. Fillan came to Scotland in 717AD, and gave his name to Killin, where he settled, and where the healing pool was near to the Celtic Christian church, which he built. As late as 1792, the practice of dipping ‘lunatics’ in the freezing cold holy pool and chaining them up overnight as a ‘cure’ is recorded.
The small fragment of chain caught the imagination of student Robert Weston at the University of Western Australia, and working with Professor Susan Broomhall, he designed a greetings card for the Smith, with the remarkable story of the Chain. We should take some pride in the fact that people on the other side of the world can be inspired by a single Stirling story. There are hundreds of them to be discovered in the Smith – come and see for yourself!