Knights to the rescue at Whithorn

Janet Butterworth (centre) and some of the unusually-dressed visitors
Janet Butterworth (centre) and some of the unusually-dressed visitors

A surprise phone call was all that heralded the arrival of members of the Strathleven Artizans at the Whithorn Trust on Sunday.

Turning up in full medieval costume and brandishing the swords of King Robert Bruce, they had driven down from Renton village in Dunbartonshire as soon as they heard of the threatened closure of the Trust.

The Artizans were formed to promote the life of Bruce and the historic links with their village through personal appearances at schools, clubs, societies and historical gatherings in Scotland and internationally. Bruce came to Whithorn a few weeks before his death in 1329. It is thought that he suffered from leprosy and there was a widespread belief that Saint Ninian’s shrine in Whithorn, once Scotland’s most important centre for pilgrimage, was a powerful place of healing.

One member of the group, known as Stout Duncan seen here holding a reproduction of Bruce’s two-handed sword said: “We are very sure indeed in our support for this cause. Bruce, believing in the power of St Ninian, visited the area and we think he would be very disappointed at such disastrous decisions being made.”

But the Strathleven Artizans are not alone in offering support for the Trust in under a week over a thousand have signed the online petition and the case has received coverage in the local and national press, BBC TV and radio. The possible closure is a consequence of a shortfall of £18,500 in Dumfries and Galloway funding.