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Ballantrae Church History

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for
a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
- Genesis 9.13

A Brief History of the Kirk in the Parish of Ballantrae

How and when the Church became established in the Parish of Ballantrae is a matter of conjecture, if we start with the name "Killantringan", we can make a reasonably good guess

Killantringan means "The Church of St Ninnian". St. Ninnian or Ringan, as he is sometimes called in Scotland, was born on the shores of the Solway firth about the year 353 A.D. His father a chieftain of that district brought him up as a Christian and dedicated him to the Church. The lad was enthusiastic for religion , for knowledge and for travel, and, as a young man made his way across the Alps to Rome, where he lived for some years. He returned to Galloway about 397 with a band of followers lent to him by St. Martin to help in founding the Monastic Church in Britain. Tradition tells that he tried to land in his coracle south of Currarie Port and at Ballantrae, but was unable to secure a footing on either point. Some of his followers were skilled in the art of building and tradition claims that with their aid Ninnian erected the first stone church in Britain. This claim is disputed, but it is certain that the Candida Casa or white house, afterwards known as Whithorn, was a centre from which a great impetus was given to the spread of the Gospel. The names of its missionaries are still borne by the fields and hills, by wells and villages all over Scotland. Balkissock in our parish, is said to have been named after St Kessock, who came from Whithorn and was martyred at Luss.

Our first Church is likely to have been somewhere in the area known as Killantringan. Nearby Auchencrosh means "Field of the Cross" and to southwest is Balminnoch, "the place of the Monks". This church would be an unsubstantial building and all traces of it must have disappeared long ago.

St. Ninnian died in 432 A.D. and more than 200 years elapse before we pick up the historical threads of the Church in our Parish.

Shortly after 661, St. Cuthbert, Prior of Melrose, and the Apostle of the Borders, visited Galloway, and as the custom of naming Churches after living saints continued to a later period in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe, it is probable that the Church at Kircubright-Innertig (the Kirk of Cuthbert at the mouth of the Tig) was built as an immediate result of his visit and was named after him and dedicated to him.

Church at Kirubright-Innertig

This Church is situated on the Farm of Kirkholm close to the junction of the Tig with the river Stinchar, about one and a half miles inland from the village of Ballantrae. There are ruins of a Church there now but they can hardly be those of the earliest Church, which would more likely be of wood or turf. In its enclosure of about an acre in extent are several small undressed tombstones, all unlettered, except one bearing the name Thomas M. McCreadie.

The date of the erection of the Church now in ruins at Innertig is unknown but it was evidently old at the time of the Reformation. It was one of the Churches granted to the Monks of Crossraguel by Duncan, Earl of Carrick in 1185.



Ballantrae Charity Number: SC008536 ----------------------- St Colmon Charity Number SC014381