Pilgrims’ port of call
Judging from parallels in Ireland, Chapel Finian was probably built in the 900s or 1000s – though it’s possible it was not the first chapel on this site.
It was probably a resting place for pilgrims, mostly travelling from Ireland on their way to Whithorn Priory. It’s easy to imagine the gratitude felt by earlier travellers and pilgrims arriving here by boat.
Excavations in 1950 revealed that the chapel consisted of a single rectangular room, about 6.7m by 4.1m, with an entrance through a door in the south wall. Little evidence of the internal arrangements were found, other than traces of wall plaster and a stone bench encased in wood.
A drystone wall surrounds the church. Healing properties were probably ascribed to the chapel’s well, which survives within the chapel grounds.
The great saint
Chapen Finian is named for the Irish saint Finnian, a great scholar and founder who is said to have taught St Columba. He was educated at Whithorn and died about AD 579. Some scholars believe that Finian and Ninian are corruptions of the name Uinniau. Uinniau was a bishop active in the 500s and was probably the real historical figure on whom the cults of Finian and Ninian are based.
The chapel stands as a monument within the spiritual landscape of pilgrimage to the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn.