Story of a Saint

St Ninian of Whithorn, the Saint who built the first stone church in Scotland in 397AD. Published by Oxford University Press in 1948, it was written by William D. Maxwell. The two-colour illustrations are by Margaret Horder with cover designed by V.M. Kimber.

The book mostly follows the standard life of Ninian. Unfortunately, while charmingly produced, it reinforces the speculation that Ninian landed at the Isle of Whithorn and there built his first “small stone church, and beside it a row of huts for his followers to live in. The ruins of a much later church stand on what was probably the exact spot where Ninian built, and it is believed that the little mounds nearby, now covered with grass, hide the stone foundations of the monk’s huts. This place he called Candida Casa…St Ninian himself was later buried here.”

Excavations since the book was written have found that below the grass mounds no evidence of early monk’s huts exists and the chapel was probably erected c.1300 to replace a 12th-early 13th century chapel, whose foundations were found by Radford’s excavations in 1957.

It is at Whithorn that Ninian built the church known as Candida Casa and, by almost all accounts, it was there he was buried.

First Published August 2009

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