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WHITHORN

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 609 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WHITHORN, a royal burgh of Wigtownshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 1118. It is situated near the southern extremity of the peninsula of Machers, 121 in. S. of Wigtown by railway. The town consists of one long street running north and south, in which the town-hall is situated. It is famous for its associations with St Ninian or Ringan, the first Christian missionary to Scotland. He landed at the Isle of Whithorn, a small promontory about 31 M. to the S.E. where he built (397) a church of stone and lime, which, out of contrast with the dark mud and wattle huts of the natives, was called Candida Casa, the White House (Anglo-Saxon, Hwit tern, Whitherne or Whithorn). This he dedicated to his master St Martin of Tours. Ninian died probably in 432 and was buried in the church. A hundred years later the Magnum Monasterium, or monastery cf Rosnat, was founded at Whithorn, and became a noted home of learning and, in the 8th century, the seat of the bishopric of Galloway. It was succeeded in the 12th century by St Ninian's Priory, built for Premonstratensian monks by Fergus " King " of Galloway, of which only the chancel (used as the parish church till 1822) with a richly decorated late Norman doorway, and fragments of the lady chapel, vaults, cellars, buttresses and tombs remain. The priory church was the cathedral church of the see till the Reformation, when it fell into gradual decay. In Roman times Whithorn belonged to the Novantae, and William Camden, the antiquary, identified it with the Leukopibia of Ptolemy. It was made a royal burgh by Robert Bruce.
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