Whithorn Cathedral Priory

National Grid Reference (NGR): NX 44480 40320, map




Whithorn Cathedral Priory

Whithorn Cathedral-Priory lies on a small hill west of the main street. The priory church ruins are in two parts - the nave to the west and the crypt and other structures to the east, which were largely reconstructed at the end of the 19th century. Whithorn was the scene of the earliest recorded Christian mission to Scotland, and became an important Celtic monastery. It was later converted into a house of Premonstratensian canons, and the large church served as the cathedral of the medieval bishops of Galloway. Later, the nave was adapted as the cathedral of Protestant bishops. In the 18th century it was used as the Presbyterian parish church. The present church was built in 1822 and the older structure then became a ruin. The site of the destroyed buildings was, until recently, used as a cemetery. The early monastery would have been composed of a number of small buildings, enclosed within a fence or bank. They would have been constructed in simple materials, perhaps in drystone or wood. There may have been several churches, a libry and a scriptorium, where manuscripts were copied. The later priory featured a nave, with small sections dating to the 12th century and most of a later date, up to the 18th century. The nave had a gallery, various windows and doorways. Its roofless structure still stands today, the interior has been used for burials in the recent past. To the east lay a chapel and crypt, and there was likely an aisled presbytery. Researched and written by J. Dowling, 22/9/03.


  • Monument: Founded (0400)
    People: St Ninian
  • Monument: Build/construction (1100)
  • Monument: Restoration (18L0)
    People: Marquess of Bute