Boisil (d. c.660), abbot of Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland, was a successor of the Columban mission to Scotland and Northumbria. Bede (‘Historia ecclesiastica’, iv, 27) describes him as ‘a priest of great virtues, endowed with the spirit of prophecy’. He became the spiritual mentor of Cuthbert, who joined his monastery in 651. The Columban Irish characteristics of Cuthbert's monasticism are likely to have been derived from Boisil. Bede relates that years after Boisil's death he appeared in a dream (690) to one of Ecgberht's confrères at Ráith Melsigi (Clonmelsh, Co. Carlow), advising him to dissuade Ecgberht (qv) from going on a mission to the Frisians but to go instead to Iona and persuade that community to accept the Roman Easter. This may suggest that at some stage Boisil had been Ecgberht's mentor. Boisil was buried in the church of Old Melrose after his death, but his bones were removed as relics to Durham cathedral by Eadmund, bishop of Durham 1020–42. Substantial fragments of his eighth-century stone shrine, carved in the Hiberno-Saxon style, survive at Jedburgh, where they were brought from Melrose. It is very likely that his name is an Irish variant of the name Basil, and that, unknown to Bede, he was indeed an Irishman. His name is perpetuated in the town of St Boswell's, near Melrose.
C. A. Ralegh-Radford, ‘Two Scottish shrines: Jedburgh and St Andrews’, Arch. Jn., cxii (1955), 43–60; C. A. Ireland, ‘Boisil: an Irishman buried in the works of Bede’, Peritia, v (1986), 400–03; D. P. Kirby, ‘Cuthbert, Boisil of Melrose and the Northumbrian priest Ecgberht: some historical and hagiographical connections’, M. Richter and J.-M. Picard (ed.), Ogma: essays in Celtic studies in honour of Próinséas Ní Chatháin (2002), 48–53; ODNB