Isle of Whithorn (Port Rosnait in Gaelic), is one of the most southerly villages and seaports in Scotland, lying on the coast north east of Burrow Head, about three miles from Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway. Whithorn, (Taigh Mhàrtainn in Gaelic), is a former royal burgh in Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway, with which the Isle of Whithorn is frequently incorrectly amalgamated or confused. It lies about thirteen miles south of Wigtown.
Various scenes from the 1973 film The Wicker Man were filmed in and around the Isle of Whithorn. The co-owner of the Isle of Whithorn castle, Elizabeth McAdam Laughland, plus several other local people featured in various scenes.
A witness cairn was erected in 1997 to commemorate the arrival of the Christian missionary St. Ninian to these shores and pilgrims are encouraged to place stones with personal messages onto a rock cairn. These cairns are sited in the remains of a building used to house the Isle of Whithorn lifeboat.
The village is the location of the long ruined 13th century Saint Ninian’s Chapel, previously a chapel linked to Whithorn Priory and a stopping off point for pilgrims landing on Isle Head and making their way to Whithorn. No longer a true island, John Ainslie’s maps as late as 1782 and 1821 show the Isle as an island. The main street was originally a causeway, with the harbour located on what was then the true Isle.
The Isle has a long history of habitation, for example a survey of the ground between the Isle village and Saint Ninian’s Chapel revealed Clearance cairns and cultivation furrows, as well as the remains of a rectangular building occupying the crest of the low hill immediately to the west of the chapel, with possible steps leading downhill towards the east.
The Steam Packet Inn was a great place to stop for lunch after our visit with some good local food and a fine selection of craft beers.
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