The Isle of Whithorn
It is possible, they say, to see five kingdoms in the Machars. Stand atop any good vantage point near the coast, some of them not far from the Isle of Whithorn, and given good weather, with your feet in Scotland you will see the Cumbrian hills of England; the ancient island kingdom of Man, and, to the west, the distant hills of Ulster.
Local tradition has it that the fifth kingdom is above - Heaven. Scotland's Christian heritage began here in the Machars and, nurtured by our first missionary St Ninian, it blossomed and spread over much of the country.
Centuries later and Whithorn and its Isle are still places of quiet pilgrimage, at St Ninian's Cave on the dramatic western coastline; at the small chapel that lies close by the Isle of Whithorn; or at Whithorn Priory, where Ninian established Candida Casa - the white or shining house.
It's possible in places to still follow the old Pilgrim's Road which led to Medieval Whithorn, and along which journeys were taken by several Scottish monarchs, including Robert the Bruce, James III, James IV and James V, and lastly by Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th century. St Ninian's Day, 16th September, would have been when the town was thronged with pilgrims; Whithorn and the surrounding communities now mark this time with the annual St Ninian Festival - a celebration of worship, music, and drama.
More information about the event and the Whithorn Visitor Centre can be obtained from the Whithorn Trust..
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