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Ancient Cemetery Could Reveal Where Christianity Began in Scotland

Thousands of human bones discovered 30 years ago could help reveal where Christianity began in Scotland.

Archaeologists are studying the bones found in an ancient mass grave to determine whether there were early Scottish Christians before St. Columba came to Iona and spread Christianity in the mid 6th century, reports The Scotsman.

It could confirm what people in Whithorn already believe, that it is the true cradle of Christianity in Scotland. —Julia Muir Watt, development manager at the Whithorn Trust

Researchers found the old burial ground in Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway. Modern technology is helping scientists analyze the bones to find information on the earliest Christians in the area.

Whithorn has been identified as an early Christian settlement, following the discovery of the Latinus Stone, the oldest surviving Christian memorial in Scotland. The stone is dated from around 450 AD and is found near an early Christian cemetery. Other evidence of Christian burial and feasts have been found in Whithorn.

“It could confirm what people in Whithorn already believe, that it is the true cradle of Christianity in Scotland,” said Julia Muir Watt, development manager at the Whithorn Trust.

The Museums Galleries Scotland donated $78,500 (£60,000) to the research project. “Advancements in research and analysis techniques since the collection was excavated mean that it is likely that the project will result in some radical discoveries in relation to dates and interpretation,” said MGS.

Scientists have been interested in Whithorn after the discovery of several evidences pointing to it as where Christianity began in the European country.

However, the Venerable Bede, regarded as the greatest of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars, have written in the 8th century about a holy man named Nynia. Some believed that Nynia introduced the Christian faith in Scotland long before St. Columba.

Sources:
The Scotsman
Historic Environment Scotland

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