Whithorn: guidebooks

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1953 (5th impress. 1968)

C.A. Ralegh Radford and Gordon Donaldson prepared an official guidebook for Whithorn and Kirkmadrine in 1953. This covers the monastery and later priory at Whithorn; St Ninian’s Chapel at the Isle of Whithorn; St Ninian’s Cave at Glasserton; the museum at Whithorn that contains material from surrounding locations; and the Kirkmadrine stones displayed in the old church. There is a fold-out plan of the priory at Whithorn. The guide contains an extensive history of the region (pp. 3–27).

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The present History Scotland guide is by Adrian Cox with Sally Gall and Peter Yeoman. The focus is on Whithorn but there are sections on St Ninian’s Chapel and Cave, as well as a double page spread on Kirkmadrine.

Benedictine Abbeys in State Care

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Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Battle Abbey, Sussex. The Abbey was founded on the site of William I’s victory at the battle of Hastings. It seems likely that it was founded at some point after 1070, and the choir of the new abbey was consecrated in 1076. The completed abbey was consecrated in February 1094. The first four monks came from the abbey of Marmoutier Abbey in the Loire. [EH]

Canterbury, St Augustine’s Abbey, Kent. The first abbey was established in 598 as part of Augustine’s mission to England. Abbot Scotland, a monk from Mont St Michel, was appointed in 1070. [EH]

Boxgrove Priory, West Sussex. Founded c. 1117 from abbey of Lessay in Normandy. [EH]

Westminster Abbey. The Pyx Chamber is in State Guardianship. [EH]

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1955 (12th impression 1977)

 

East Anglia

Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk. The monastery was the resting place of the body of king Edmund killed in 903. The Benedictine abbey was found in 1020. [EH]

Colchester, St John’s Abbey, Essex. The abbey was founded in 1095 to the south of the town. The 15th century gatehouse is in State Guardianship. [EH]

Isleham Priory, Cambridgeshire. The priory was founded c. 1100. The priory church is in State Guardianship. [EH]

Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire. Founded in 1159, and passed to the Knights Templars in 1170. [EH]

Binham Priory, Norfolk. The priory was founded in 1091 from St Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire. [EH]

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Binham Priory, undercroft (with dorter above) and warming room beyond © David Gill

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The South-West

Muchelney Abbey, Somerset. [EH] [Historic England]

Abbotsbury Abbey, Dorset. The abbey was founded in 1044. [EH]

Wales

Ewenny Priory, Glamorgan. The Benedictine priory was founded by Maurice de Londres in 1141. It was founded from the abbey of St Peter in Gloucester that had links with the earlier church at Ewenny established 1116-26. [Cadw]

The North-East and Yorkshire

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Whitby Abbey © David Gill

Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire. The first monastery at Whitby was established by Abbess Hild in 657 at the prompting of king Oswy of Northumbria. The Synod of Whitby was held in 664. The monastery was probably destroyed during the Viking raids c. 867. In the years after the Norman conquest the monastery was established, probably c. 1078, by Reinfrid, from the Benedictine monastery of Evesham. The church was constructed c. 1090. [EH]

Jarrow Priory, Tyne and Wear. Founded from Durham between 1075-83. [EH]

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Finchale Priory © David Gill

Finchale Priory, Durham. The origins lie in the hermitage of St Godric that continued until 1196 when it became a priory linked to Durham Cathedral. [EH]

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Lindisfarne © David Gill

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland. The first monastery was founded in 635. It was destroyed by a Viking raid in 793. In 1069 St Cuthbert’s remains were brought to the island from Durham  to protect them during the Norman raids of the north. After 1083 Benedictine monks linked to Durham arrived at the older monastery site on Holy Island. The church was probably constructed from the 1120s. [EH]

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Tynemouth Priory © David Gill

Tynemouth Priory, Tyne and Wear. The first monastery at Tynemouth was probably established in the late 8th century, part of the kingdom of Northumbria. It was important as the burial site of king Osred II of Northumbria. The monastery was probably destroyed in 875. A church on the site was destroyed during the early years of the Norman conquest, and the location given to the monks of Jarrow some time after 1074. A new church was built in 1083. Some after 1090 the monastery was given to the Benedictine abbey of St Albans in Hertfordshire by Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland. [EH]

North-West

Wetheral Priory, Cumbria. founded in the early 12th century. [EH]

Scotland

Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. Founded c. 1070, perhaps as the earliest Benedictine community in Scotland. The abbey was established in 1128. [HES]

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Iona © David Gill

Iona Abbey. The Benedictine community was established in 1200. [HES]

 

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Philippi

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The forum, Philippi © David Gill

The Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia, northern Greece, has been designated as one of the latest additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (“Philippi becomes UNESCO World Heritage site“, ekathimerini.com 15 July 2016). Excavations have revealed parts of the Roman city including a series of Byzantine churches.

The site is described as follows:
The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The vibrant Hellenistic city of Philip II, of which the walls and their gates, the theatre and the funerary heroon (temple) are to be seen, was supplemented with Roman public buildings such as the Forum and a monumental terrace with temples to its north. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.

The colony was the setting of the Apostle Paul’s mission to Macedonia as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Lindisfarne Priory

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Lindisfarne Priory © David Gill

The first monastery on Lindisfarne was established in the 7th century AD by St Aidan. St Cuthbert was buried here at the end of the century; his remains were later moved to Durham. A new monastery was founded from Durham in the early 12th century.

The west front of the church contained two towers (the southern one remains). The inside face of the west front shows the traces of the vaulting that covered the nave of the church, a feature that recalls Durham.

At the top of the front are arrowloops that were constructed  to defend the priory from attack during the border wars with Scotland.

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Lindisfarne Priory © David Gill

The present parish church of St Mary was built to the west of the priory church and dates to the 13th century.

Kirkmadrine Early Christian Stones

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Kirkmadrine © David Gill

The Early Christian Stones at Kirkmadrine are displayed in the 19th century mausoleum built by Lady McTaggart Stewart of Ardwell.

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1953 (5th impress. 1968)

The original guidebook (combined with Whithorn) was by C.A. Ralegh Radford (1953). This contains a catalogue of the stones as well as transcriptions. The present Historic Scotland guide includes a section on Kirkmadrine.

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Kirkmadrine © David Gill

The Ministry finger boards directing to the stone were made by the Royal Label Factory.

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Kirkmadrine © David Gill

Iona: MacLean’s Cross

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Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

MacLean’s Cross stands on the road between Port Rònain and the Abbey, not far from the nunnery and adjacent to the parish church. The route was the Sràid nam Marbh, or the ‘Street of the Dead’. The cross was commissioned in the late 15th century by the clan chief of the MacLeans of Duart.

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Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

The cross is more than 3 m tall. Pilgrims to the island would have stood facing the cross from the west side on which there is a carved crucifixion. Above the cross is a lily that symbolises the Virgin Mary.

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Iona, MacLean’s Cross, east face © David Gill

On the reverse of the cross is a patterned motif, with two animals below the cross head.

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Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

The cross is the oldest monument in State Guardianship on the island. The cross still rests in the original socket slab, but the base is more recent. A Ministry of Works sign was provided to explain the cross.

Whithorn: The Latinus Stone

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The Latinus Stone, Whithorn © David Gill

The Latinus stone was discovered in 1891 during the clearances of the site. It appears to have been reused in the later medieval church. It was probably part of an early Christian cemetery.

The worn inscription reads (based on C.A. Ralegh Radford’s transliteration and translation):

TE DOMINV(M) / LAVDAMVS / LATINVS / ANNORV(M) / XXXV ET / FILIA SVA / ANN(ORUM) IV / (H)IC SI(G)NUM / FECERV(N)T / NEPVS / BARROVA / DI

We praise you, the Lord! Latinus, aged 35, and his daughter, aged 4. The grandson Barravados set up the monument here.

Historic Scotland supplies an alternative translation:
We praise you, the Lord! Latinus, descendant of Barravados, aged 35, and his daughter, aged 4, made a sign here.

Ralegh Radford dated the stone to the mid 5th century. He observed the allusion to Psalm 146, part of the liturgy used at funerals.

The stone is displayed in the Museum and curated by Historic Scotland (HES). It is one of the oldest pieces of evidence for Christianity in Scotland.