Saints and Stones: Whithorn

The first church at Whithorn was also the first church in Scotland. Founded by St. Ninian, it was dedicated to St Martin of Tours and was commonly known as the Candida Casa ("White House)."

Very little is really known about St Ninian, although we know he was British in origin and had studied in Rome. It is not even certain when St Ninian established his church. Various dates as early as 397 A.D.or as late as 500 A.D. have been given. 430 A.D. seems a fair working assumption. Under St Ninian, Whithorn developed into a cathedral churchand accompanied by a monastery. It became renowned as a centre of learning, and was the origin of many of the missionaries who later converted Scotland to Christianity. On his death, St Ninian was buried in his church, and over the following centuries Whithorn became the focus for pilgrimage from across the British Isles and beyond.

In the 700s, Whithorn was a Northumbrian possession, while by the 900s it had been settled by the Norse, who continued to use the area around the church as a burial ground. The Norse had been ousted by 1100 and the Bishopric of Whithorn was re-established in 1128. This marked the start of the second era of Christianity at Whithorn, for work began almost immediately on a much grander cathedral to replace St Ninian's original church. The cathedral of the Bishop of Whithorn was probably complete by the time Whithorn also became a Priory of the Premonstratensian Order of White Canons in 1177.

About Whithorn

Historic Scotland: Whithorn Priory and Museum
Undiscovered Scotland: Whithorn Priory
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Diocese of Galloway
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ninian
Wikipedia: Saint Ninian
Wikipedia: Premonstratensians

Journey to Whithorn

Whithorn Priory is located on the A746 in the town of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Streetmap UK (NGR NX444240308)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the Historic Scotland Whithorn Priory and Museum website. General tourist information is at the Whithorn Tourism website.

Additional Photos of Whithorn

Welcome to Whithorn Sign
Reader Board at St. Ninian's Priory Church in Whithorn
Descriptive Sign at Whithorn Priory
Whithorn Priory Nave
Exterior of Nave of Whithorn Priory
Interior of Nave of Whithorn Priory
Arch in Interior of Nave of Whithorn Priory
Exterior of Nave of Whithorn Priory
Ruins of Early 8th Century Northumbrian Site (foreground) with Whithorn Priory and Parish Church in Background
Early Northumbrian Site Near Whithorn Priory
Whithorn Priory Crypt
Bishop's Graves in Whithorn Priory Crypt
Ornate Tombstone in Graveyard Outside Whithorn Parish Church
St. Ninian Stained-Glass Window in Whithorn Parish Church
Ancient Cross Slabs in Museum Near Whithorn Priory
Latinus Stone (ca.450 A.D.), Oldest Christian monument in Scotland, located in Museum Near Whithorn Priory
The Peter Stone (400 A.D. - 700 A.D.) in the Museum Near Whithorn Priory
Grave Slab (800 A.D. - 1100 A.D.) from Churchyard at Mochrum near Whithorn in Museum Near Whithorn Priory
Stones Found at St. Ninian's Cave Now in Museum Near Whithorn Priory

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