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Whithorn, Priory of

WHITHORN, PRIORY OF

Former Premonstratensian priory at Whithorn, Wigtownshire, Scotland. The Romanesque cathedral (now in ruins) of the Diocese of Galloway at Whithorn (Latin, Candida Casa ) was begun by Bishop Gilla-Aldan (1125?54) and continued by his successor Christian (115486), with the help of Fergus, Lord of Galloway (d.1161). It was built on the site of the most important and hallowed Celtic monastery and bishop's see in Scotland, that founded by St. ninian c. 400. The Celtic foundation had declined during the period of Viking rule and Fergus was consciously attempting to reestablish it. Bishop Christian replaced the existing cathedral clergy with premonstratensians in 1177, thus founding Whithorn Priory. For centuries a place of pilgrimage, it was richly endowed, and after the death of its last prior in 1569, its revenues were appropriated by the crown and given to the reformed bishops of Galloway.

Bibliography: g. donaldson, "The Bishops and Priors of Whithorn," Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3d ser. 27 (1950) 127154. c.a. r. radford and g. donaldson, Whithorn and Kirkmadrine, Wigtownshire (Edinburgh 1953). d. e. easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland (London 1957) 88.

[l. macfarlane]

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