St Ninian's Cave

by Tony Oldham

"In its own quiet and remote way St Ninian's Cave is also one of the great focus points of faith"

Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the Prince of Peace be upon you.

Situated on the coast about 3 miles south south east of Whithorn, the cave is well signposted and easy to find. The cave is either sign posted St Ninian's Cave or Physgill. From the main road, a side road leads to Kidsdale and the car park for the cave. Fee 20p. Then a 1,5 mile walk to the cave takes one down the beautiful, wooded valley, bluebell lined, with a stream called Physgill. A short walk along the pebble beach, brings one to the cave which is 40 feet long, 15 feet high and 10 feet wide and formed along a fault line in the Lower Silurian greywacke. It is open to daylight. A torch is not required.

The cave is traditionally associated with St Ninian who came from Ireland in the 8th century to convert the heathen Scots to Christianity. This is confirmed by the many stone crosses which were first discovered in the cave in 1871 and later in 1884 when the cave was excavated by Maxwell.

Most of the stone crosses had been removed and are in the Museum at Whithorn. We did find a few small ones [photo]. Visitors have left some small wooded crosses and stones with names written on them. A bit goulish, suggesting that many people, have fallen off the cliff and died here.

Text by Tony Oldham, with kind permission.