Whithorn is often suggested as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. Excavations confirmed that a fifth-century Christian community existed here and the Latinus Stone, Scotland’s oldest surviving Christian monument, was discovered here and now lies in the adjacent museum.
Medieval records claim a priest named Nynia was sent north to Galloway to establish a place of worship. He chose Whithorn as the site to build his stone church. It is reasonable to assume that he was the illustrious St Ninian, accredited with many conversions, travelling far and wide, spreading Christianity from his foundation at Whithorn.
Even after his death in AD 397, his work continued, accounts of miracles brought countless pilgrims to his shrine within the walls of his beloved church and ensuring the bishopric thrived until at least 850.
Beyond this records are scarce, until in the 12th century, Fergus of Galloway erected the priory we see as ruins today. By the 16th century the priory had attained cathedral status and the pinnacle of its wealth and glory. Excavations have proved this was once a building to rival all others in Galloway, its majestic past visible in the south wall with high pointed windows and carved Norman doorway.
Inside the visitor centre an audio-visual experience takes you through the early years of the story followed by an impressive exhibition of artefacts arranged chronologically using display cases, lifelike mannequins and interpretation boards to enhance your understanding.
The discovery centre houses interactive exhibits. Outside you’ll find the dig site, cathedral ruins and a museum of carved stones.
Don’t miss: the fascinating barrel-vaulted crypt of the cathedral.
The Whithorn Story Visitor Centre, 45–47 George Street, Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway DG8 8NS