St Ninnians Chapel Isle of Whithorn
St Ninian's Chapel was built some time in the 1300s to cater to and give respite to the flow of seaborne pilgrims landing here, and for them to give thanks in prayer for a safe journey, before continuing en route to St Ninian's Shrine at Whithorn.
The current structure replaced a narrower chapel built perhaps a hundred or more years earlier, nothing prior to this time has been found. There may have been a small burial ground and a room for a priest also within the exterior walls.
It is at Whithorn that St Ninian built the first Christian church North of Hadrian's wall in around 397 known as 'Candida Casa' or White House. Bringing Christianity to Scotland.
St. Ninian's Chapel is located on the prominentary beside the coves, which was a genuine island up to the development of the village. Car Park adjacent to the harbour.
St Ninian's cave
St Ninian's cave is signposted from the road A747 just a couple of miles outside The Isle of Whithorn, park in the car park, put 50p in the honesty box, stay as long as you like. Put stout footwear on, especially if it's rained a lot recently. Set off and follow the signs and walk around the farm and into the wooded glen. This walk isn't recommended for wheel chair users, but a baby buggy would probably be okay apart from the pebbly beach. The walk is about a mile and is quite gentle.
Whilst St Ninian's cave is a misnomer, the cave being more than a crevice, it's a place of ancient Christianity, where St Ninian, an apostle to the Pictish people Wiki - link, is said came to pray and contemplate. The cave is just a few metres deep and some of the cross carvings on the walls of the cave date from the dark ages, by the medieval period the cave had become a place of pilgramage and still remains today. Annually a pilgramage and a ceremony is held at the cave by the local Roman Catholic Diocese. Some early stone crosses from the cave are at the Whithorn museum.
The walk may be enjoyable but there's more to this special place, yes it's tranquil, yes you may enjoy the peace and quiet that we love about the Machars, just peace, birdsong, and the sound of waves. But it's the spirituality of the glen and then the beach and the cave. You walk in the footsteps of all those who came here afore ye, those that finished a pilgramage here, those that came to leave a cross, or a stone for a loved departed one. Rustic wooden crosses fashioned from twigs and branches are here and there surrounding the cave, piles of cobbles are arranged precariously in stacks. A truly spiritual place.