Whithorn Priory

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Whithorn Priory is in Whithorn village in Galloway southwest Scotland, 24 miles southeast of the town of Stranraer, 66 miles southwest of Dumfries.

Map / DG8 8PY . Area Click On Map . 52 Large Images .

This is one of the top attractions on the Whithorn peninsular (the Machars). The drive around the peninsular is about 45 miles, a full day if visiting all the attractions.

The image top is of the entrance with the remains of the Priory to the left, and church from 1822 on the right.

The Crypt is to the right of the Church, thought to be the oldest parts of what now remains, an interesting place to explore.

The notice board image shows what the complex was once like.

397 - Saint Ninian is said to have become the first Scot to bring Christianity to Scotland. He was a local from Galloway that studied in Rome. St Ninian built the first Christian building on this site at Whithorn.

Little is known about St Ninian, other than he was believed to have the power to cure illness and perform miracles.

The original building of St Ninian here was known as the White House, probably a small stone church, that was later enlarged to serve as a Cathedral Church under St Ninian.

St Ninian was buried at this church, leading to pilgrims from all over Scotland and Ireland visiting Whithorn.

700s - Whithorn was under the control of the Northumbrians.

900s - the Norse took control of Whithorn.

1100s - the Norse were removed from the area by the Scots.

1128 - the Bishopric of Whithorn was re-established, leading to work enlarging the original Cathedral.

1177 - Whithorn also became a Priory of the Premonstratensian Order of White Canons.

1200s to 1500s - the Cathedral and Priory were extended into a large complex.

1560s - the Reformation led to the Cathedral falling into disrepair.

1700s - the main tower of the Cathedral collapsed.

1822 - the new Parish Church is built on the site of the former Cathedral. Much of the complex was removed at that time, leaving the Crypt on the east side of the new Church, and the Nave on the west side.

1800s late - the 3rd Marquess of Bute restored the remains of the Nave and Crypt. He also excavated what is believed to be the remains of St Ninian's original church at the Crypt.

1957 - excavations at the Crypt uncovered 27 high status burials, some of Bishops buried here between 1200 and 1400.

Jewellery and other artifacts were found with the Bishops. Parts of their stone coffins can be seen in the Crypt.

Artifacts found at Whithorn are now held by the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, with them being loaned out at times for exhibitions.

Next to the Priory is the Museum and Visitor Centre containing intricately carved stones and the Latinus Stone – Scotland’s earliest Christian monument. The Bishops jewelry is at times on loan to this museum, normally in summer.

St Ninian's Cave is situated 3 miles west of Whithorn, with a car park and 1 mile woodland walk down to the beach.

Many of the stones in the Whithorn Museum were found in this cave.

St Ninian's Chapel is situated at the Isle of Whithorn, 4 miles south.

Whithorn Priory Images