A wee Church that drips with history in a superb location. . The ruins of St Ninian’s Chapel stand on the seaward side of Isle of Whithorn, on what was originally a genuine island before the gap between it and the mainland was filled during the development of the village and harbour.
The chapel and the surviving part of the enclosure wall date back to about 1300. It seems to have been built on the site of a narrower chapel dedicated to St Ninian in the 1100s, but while it is tempting to think of the possibility of older structures which take Christianity here nearer to St Ninian’s own time, seven hundred years earlier, no evidence for this has ever been found on the Isle of Whithorn.
St Ninian’s Chapel seems to have served as a first port of call for pilgrims who had landed from boats in the neighbouring bay. They would have come to the chapel to give thanks for a safe journey, in an era when travel by sea was always a lottery, and then set off on foot to cover the 3½ miles to St Ninian’s shrine at Whithorn, the famous Candida Casa (White House)
In 1864 it was recorded that the dressed stone facing the walls of the chapel had been removed by “a certain retired sea captain” for reuse in the construction of his nearby house. In 1898 the ruins were extensively repaired and partly rebuilt, leaving them much as you see them today.