The town of Whithorn is of significant importance to European Christians. It has an information centre and museum, run by Historic Scotland, that promotes the town’s history as the “cradle of Scottish Christianity”.
It is at this site that in 397 AD, Saint Ninian founded a Christian settlement, known traditionally as ‘Candida Casa’¹ (the White House). Candida Casa was Scotland’s first Christian building and was a well established site of pilgrimage by medieval times.
The Whithorn Trust was set up to promote the archaeology and heritage of Whithorn in Dumfries
In 2013, the Trust feared that it could be forced to close due to a funding shortfall: however it has recently received a donation of £10,500 from the John Liston Scottish Charitable Trust to help it survive at least for this year².
Whithorn has several sites that are of particular importance to anyone with an interest in early Christianity:
Whithorn Priory was a medieval abbey and cathedral dating from the middle of the twelfth century.
St Ninian’s Chapel, at the Isle of Whithorn, is said to be the place where medieval pilgrims would give thanks on landfall after coming by boat to the area
and St Ninian’s Cave is by legend the place to where the saint would retreat for solitude and contemplation.
An exciting initiative is under way to re-create the pilgrim route that once linked the major holy sites in southern Scotland, ending at Whithorn. Called ‘the Ayrshire Pilgrim’s Trail’, it is hoping to resurrect the path that once led from Glasgow to Whithorn, via Govan, Paisley, Ayrshire and Glenluce.