The Whithorn Trust Visitor Centre is the starting point for the visitor who wishes to learn about the oldest church in Scotland, and the community which grew up around it in the Fifth Century AD. Whithorn has an internationally important collection of Christian stones, reflecting the early period at which Ninian founded his church here.
The Whithorn Trust Visitor Centre is easily found in the central part of Whithorn’s George Street. The rear exhibition has been recently reconstructed and uses a mixture of objects, interpretation panels, models and figures to bring the complex history of occupation here to life.
In a recent audit of museums, the collection of artifacts at Whithorn was the only one to be classed as being of national importance in its entirety.
The display runs chronologically through all the major phases of Whithorn’s history: it includes the early imported glass and pottery, which provides evidence of Whithorn’s early sophistication well before the development of other Christian centres; there are rare Northumbrian coins from the period of Anglo-Saxon dominance; antler combs from Norse Whithorn, and the magnificent bishop’s crozier dating from the 12th century.
Whithorn’s period of prosperity and royal recognition was in the era of pilgrimage, when St. Ninian’s shrine was sought out by commoners, lords and kings from Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland and England, for cures for illness and forgiveness of sins. The exhibition ends with a look at the archaeological investigations over the years and a computer access point with a DVD presentation of the site at Whithorn and other associated sites in the area.
The visitor may also visit the archaeological site, where the outline of the Northumbrian church may be seen, the Priory ruins, where the nave and crypts of the once great cathedral are still standing , and the small museum which houses an internationally important collection of Christian stones. During the season (Easter to October), the Ninian Gallery at the Visitor Centre hosts a number of travelling exhibitions.