St Ninian and the beginning of Scottish Christianity

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  • Looking up George Street, the main street through Whithorn, Dumfries & Galloway.
    George Street, Whithorn
  • Looking over a field of buttercups down to numerous boats moored at the harbour at the Isle of Whithorn.
    Isle of Whithorn
  • Looking over to numerous boats moored at the harbour at the Isle of Whithorn
    Isle of Whithorn
  • Looking up the pend to the priory at Whithorn in Dumfries & Galloway.
    Whithorn Priory

Wander around the town of Whithorn in Dumfries & Galloway and you can find out about St Ninian, who is thought to have brought Christianity to Scotland back in the fifth century.

Discover the connections to Christianity in Whithorn in Dumfries & Galloway, where you can hear and see about St Ninian, the fifth century missionary and bishop who was honoured by thousands of pilgrims.

St Ninian is believed to have trained in Rome before returning to Galloway and founding the first Christian church in Whithorn. It became known as the 'white house' which is how the town came to acquire its name.

Thousands of pilgrims journeyed to the town to pay their respects to him long after he had died in around 432 AD and are believed to have left carvings on the walls of St Ninian's Cave, dating back to the eighth century. Find out about the saint and the pilgrims by visiting the cave and St Ninian's Chapel on the coast, in the fishing village of Isle of Whithorn. Before the 1560s, the village was one of the main ports used by the pilgrims and the chapel was where they would offer thanks to the saint for their safe journey.

In the town of Whithorn, you can visit the Whithorn Story Visitor Centre which is run by Whithorn Trust, an organisation promoting the archaeology and heritage of the 'cradle of Christianity' in Scotland. It features displays of artefacts and a simulated archaeological dig, and is a great source of information on the way people used to live, their art, their technology as well as their religious practices.

Head further along Bruce Street to the Whithorn Priory Museum to see a collection of stones, including the famous Latinus Stone, which date back to 450 AD. The collection tells the astonishing story from the arrival of Christianity to the Reformation. Next, see the ruins of Whithorn Priory and the crypts, which are thought to have once held the rock-cut tomb of St Ninian.

This fantastic collection of buildings throughout the town and village give a fascinating insight into the story of the beginning of Christianity in Scotland and are well worth a visit while in Dumfries & Galloway.