The pictures that we have of Culdee life in the 12th century vary considerably.
At Brechin, famous like Abernethy for its round tower, the Culdee prior and his monks helped to form the chapter of the diocese founded by David I.
As Hector Boece, " that pillar of falsehood," dubbed these presbyters " Culdees," " the pure Culdee," a blameless presbyterian, almost prehistoric, has been claimed as the ancestor of Scottish presbyterianism; and episcopacy has been regarded as a deplorable innovation.
The Irish church has paid more reverence to St Patricius than to Palladius (373-463), and the church of St Patricius, himself a figure as important as obscure, certainly abounded in bishops; according to Angus the Culdee there were 1071, but these cannot have been bishops with territorial sees, and the heads of monasteries were more potent personages.
Upon St Serf's, the largest, which commemorates the patron saint of Fifeshire, are the ruins of the Priory of Portmoak - so named from St Moak, the first abbot - the oldest Culdee establishment in Scotland.