About Places for Prayer

In this online exhibition, delve into the rich history of Scotland's places for prayer to learn about the role and impact of faith and ritual.

Scotland’s unique historic environment connects us with people who have lived here since prehistoric times. It has clearly been important for our ancestors to create places for prayer, meditation, or contemplation, as is still the case for many people today.  

What these sites tell us

The evidence is all around us, from mysterious ancient monuments to Christian places of prayer and the growing number of worship spaces that reflect the diversity of modern Scotland. Whether we go to these places alone or to gather with others, they become meaningful and often remain so for generations.  

Scotland’s prehistoric monuments bear witness to the importance of ritual, even though the beliefs that led to their construction are long lost or barely understood.  However, it is Christianity that has provided us with the majority of our places for prayer which can be found in every corner of Scotland, from the tiniest island kirk to our magnificent cathedrals. These buildings have lain at the heart of our communities for centuries; they are unique, multi-functioning public spaces that fulfil both practical and spiritual roles.  

Places of Prayer: Hope and new life

Throughout Scotland’s history, churches often provided support in times of trouble. Today, Christian congregations and members of other faith groups continue to support those in need by organising food banks and overseas aid. However, the church towers and spires that have defined our skylines for so long are under threat.  With closures happening at a spiralling rate, many communities across Scotland are faced with the loss of their local church.  

Nonetheless, there is hope. New life is being breathed into redundant churches, either to preserve them as they are or to creatively repurpose them for a different use. Community groups, charities and individuals are recognising their potential and contributing towards the survival of this precious element of the built heritage for us all. 

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Explore a range of prehistoric sites and structures that were important to ancient communities in Scotland.