Whithorn is one of the most important Early Medieval sites in the country, with evidence of Christian occupation from as early as the 5th Century; the Whithorn archaeological archive, resulting from several campaigns of excavation, is nationally significant.
The Whithorn Trust, an independent charity based in Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, is custodian of this important site which is one of the main economic drivers in the remote South Machars of Galloway. Whithorn suffers multiple deprivations, including employment and income deprivation, as well as being remote from cultural opportunity.
The Whithorn Trust consciously applies its preeminence in the field of archaeology and heritage to addressing the issues of the community in which it is located.
The Whithorn Trust is dedicated to providing a museum and visitor experience which stands out from the rest, inspiring current and future generations with an appreciation of Whithorn’s story, through our collection and archaeology. In doing this, it has the broader aim of playing a key role in economic regeneration and increased opportunities for the benefit of people in the Burgh of Whithorn and District, and beyond.
With a visitor centre situated in the remote and rural South Machars (comprising exhibition of artefacts, Audio Visual presentations, gallery, schools area, coffee shop and museum shop) and an outdoor attraction (including our full scale reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse and our partnership museum at Whithorn Priory), the Whithorn Trust is the main reason for visitors to come to the South Machars. In addition, the archaeological campaigns of the last century have yielded one of the largest collections in the country and this is housed at Stranraer Museum stores.
Since 2015, the Whithorn Trust has embarked on imaginative and innovative ways of sharing its important collections with the public. This includes the construction of a full-scale Roundhouse which has supported its improving visitor numbers; it also includes the business development of the Whithorn Way long-distance walking route, which follows the ancient pilgrimage route from Glasgow Cathedral to Whithorn. Additionally, the “Cold Case Whithorn” project has, in 2019/20, enabled leading researchers to reopen the archaeological archive and test human remains using the latest scientific techniques. All these initiatives are currently ongoing and we expect the results to be high profile and to continue, in the coming years, to enlighten and foster the enjoyment of history for the public and for young people and children.
We aim to enrich people’s lives, encouraging enjoyment, learning and participation through our public programme, training and volunteering schemes. Although we are a small organisation, we hold events throughout the year, family activities during the holidays, a programme for schools and community-focused initiatives. We are a space for people to be active, learn new things, look at the world differently, make friends and give something back.