It is not known where St Triduana (English: Tredwell) came from. She may have been a Pictish recluse in Angus. Her story is that of the beautiful young woman pursued by an unwanted suitor, in this case by a local prince called Nechtan. When she discovered he was attracted by her eyes she took them out and gave them to him.
She continued to live as a virgin at the old village of Restalrig now part of Edinburgh.
Her holy well became a resort for the blind seeking healing of their eyes. Her reputation was widespread, for in the 15C Royal James III had a chapel built in her honour which probably included her shrine.
In 1560 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decreed that the ‘kirk of Restalrig, as a monument of idolatrie, be raysit and utterlie caste down and destroyed’. It was then used for burials – and as a result very nearly disappeared from view.
In 1907 excavations took place of what was believed to be a derelict chapter house. But when 10 or 12 foot of earth, due to the burials, had been removed, a continual water-flow made the excavators realised that they had come upon the well of St Triduana. The well house has now been beautifully restored but the well is hidden and the pool paved over.
On Papa Westray, almost the most northen of the islands of Orkney, is an iconic place for her hermitage on what was one probably a little circle of an island by a loch which gave access to the sea. The place goes back to Iron Age times and was possibly the site of a broch. Silt has now joined the island to the land but the remoteness and wildness of the site are hugely impressive. Here is solitude of the highest order. Her cell became very popular among the Orcadians and was the object of many a pilgrimage. Here indeed is a perfect place to end a pilgrimage.