McLeod seeks support for “St Ninian’s Ways” to Whithorn

Aileen McLeod is seeking a debate at Holyrood on a proposal to create “St Ninian’s Ways”, a network of routes all leading to Whithorn, reflecting the long history of religious pilgrimage associated with St Ninian and highlighting Whithorn’s historical significance as the first Christian site in Scotland – the cradle of Scottish Christianity.


Historian and heritage tourism consultant James Brown proposes that the “St Ninian’s Ways” should be candidates to become a European Cultural Route, giving them comparable international recognition and status, for example, as the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella.


Dr McLeod said:


“Whithorn has immense historical and cultural significance for Scotland, but this is nowhere near as widely known and recognised as it should be. As the first Christian site in Scotland it can truly lay claim to the status of the Cradle of Scottish Christianity and was a place of pilgrimage for 16 centuries.


“By establishing the St Ninian’s Ways, with Whithorn as their destination, and seeking European Cultural Route status for them, I hope that we can boost Whithorn’s profile as an important historical site, not only for Scotland, but for the development of Christianity in western Europe.


“I hope therefore that we can have a debate in Parliament to bring this idea wider exposure and gather cross-party support for its further development. Whithorn’s significance to Scottish and European history deserves to be more widely known.”


James Brown commented,


“There are 26 Cultural Routes recognised by the Council of Europe bringing economic, cultural and educational benefits to the countries involved. Only three touch lightly upon Scotland but now we have the opportunity to have the first European Cultural Route focussed not only on the UK, but with Scotland with Scotland at its centre.”


Notes to Editors:


The text of Dr McLeod’s motion is below:


Motion S4M-08831: Aileen McLeod, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2014


The St Ninian Ways, a Proposed European Cultural Route


That the Parliament recognises what it considers the significance of Whithorn as an important historical and archaeological site in the establishment and development of Christianity in Scotland; considers that Whithorn has a strong association with St Ninian, leading to the burgh’s status as a major centre of pilgrimage over 16 centuries of Scottish history; notes that Paisley Abbey and Crossraguel Abbey are already part of the Cluniac European Cultural Route, and considers that the creation of The St Ninian Ways as a new European Cultural Route with Whithorn as its destination would stimulate economic regeneration along the routes and help to increase the profile of Whithorn as a site of major significance both to Scottish history and to the development of Christianity in western Europe.


·         European Cultural Routes website:


·         Scotland has two members of the European Federation of Cluniac Sites. They are Paisley Abbey (Church of Scotland) and Crossraguel Abbey (Historic Scotland). These two historic sites are on the ancient Glasgow to Whithorn pilgrimage route.


·         European Federation of Cluniac Sites website:



·         Historic Scotland contact is Adrian Cox – e-mail:



·         The St Ninian Ways is an initiative by heritage tourism consultants, Cormack Brown, based in Ayr. Their contact details are:

James Brown –    


Tel: 01292 610 790         Mobile: 07914 787 567


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