Book Chapter

The Medieval Bishops of Whithorn, Their Cathedral and Their Tombs



Oram R (2009) The Medieval Bishops of Whithorn, Their Cathedral and Their Tombs. In: Lowe C (ed.) "Clothing for the Soul Divine": Burials at the Tomb of St Ninian: Excavations at Whithorn Priory, 1957-67. Historic Scotland Archaeology Report, 3. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, pp. 131-166.

First paragraph: Although the diocese of Whithorn is amongst the more poorly documented of Scotland's medieval sees, its bishops have been the subject of considerably more historical research than their counterparts in wealthier, more influential and better documented dioceses such as Moray, Aberdeen, St Andrews or Glasgow. Much of this research has been stimulated by the successive programmes of modern excavation at the ruins of their cathedral at Whithorn, commencing in 1949 with CA Ralegh Radford's work in the nave and at the extreme east end of the choir (Radford 1956). In conjunction with that work, which formed part of a Ministry of Works project aimed at improving public access to, and interpretation of, the ruins of the cathedral priory and the Early Christian remains at St Ninian's Cave and Kirkmadrine, the late Gordon Donaldson produced a re-analysis of the medieval bishops and priors which considerably expanded upon the pioneering study of all Scottish pre-Reformation bishops by Bishop John Dowden (1912). Donaldson's work was undertaken at the beginning of Ralegh Radford's excavations and subsequently formed the core of the historical sections of the Ministry of Works' 'Blue Guide' to Whithorn and Kirkmadrine: indeed, it still does in its current revised form (Donaldson 1949; Radford & Donaldson 1953; Radford & Donaldson 1984).

Whithorn cathedral-priory; bishops' tombs; bishops; monuments; shrine location

Funded by Historic Scotland

Title of seriesHistoric Scotland Archaeology Report
Number in series3
Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherHistoric Scotland
Publisher URL
Place of publicationEdinburgh

People (1)


Professor Richard Oram
Professor Richard Oram

Professor, History