From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

St Ninian's Cave

Dumfries and Galloway
54° 41′ 37.68″ N 4° 27′ 2.52″ W
Late 300

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
St Ninian's Cave is located about a mile from Kidsdale on a pebble beach and four miles from Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway.

Although traditionally the cave is said to be a place of retreat for Saint Ninian, who arrived at Whithorn in the late 300's, it was more likely to be a hermitage, or chapel from the monastery at Whithorn. It could have also been a stone-carving workshop.

The cave today is a lot smaller than it once was, due to successive rock falls caused by erosion from the sea and weather. Today it is 3m wide at the mouth, tapering back 7m into the rock and is 3m high. The walls are covered with graffiti.

The cave was excavated in in the 1880's and 1950's. These uncovered a collection of early medieval carved stones. There were 18 in total, most of them built into a post-medieval wall, others lying loose in the caves interior or at its mouth. As well as internal walls and pavement, they found a disturbed burial of an elderly adult and two children.

St Ninian's Cave remains a place of pilgrimage for the Roman Catholic church, the carved stones can be viewed at Whithorn Priory Museum.