In the Footsteps of St. Donan

The idea of modern pilgrimage can be explored through visiting special places where we live, in Scotland and around the globe on our own journeys of reflection and discovery. It can also be a spiritual or creative journey or another experience.

Timespan, in Helmsdale, has recently been exploring pilgrimage and monastic life in the north through research and discussion, as well as a programme of walks, talks and trips. Participants were also asked to contribute their favourite pilgrimage places in a series of interactive mapping activities.

As society becomes ever busier is there a place for a modern pilgrimage in your life?

In preparation for the next phase of our global Modern Pilgrimage in 2015, Timespan mapped the area’s significant early monastic sites and events and it is hoped that this would encourage visitors to the area to explore monastic north and enjoy time for contemplation, relaxation and creativity.

Monastic North in brief
The following historical narrative provides an overview of some significant monastic events in the Helmsdale area. It has been updated and rewritten to reflect new discoveries and input by other researchers and enthusiasts.

Modern Pilgrimage Mapping
You joined us on a journey to map your special places and share them with others. There are three interactive mapping activities. If you still wish to participate, answer the following questions and we will add your answers to the relevant maps on this webpage.
(You can email your responses to archive@timespan.org.uk or post them on our Facebook)

Mapping Scotland
Where is Scotland’s number one pilgrimage destination?
Have you been on a modern pilgrimage in Scotland?
Where would you like to visit on a modern pilgrimage in Scotland?

Mapping the Globe
Where is the world’s number one pilgrimage destination?
Have you been on a modern pilgrimage outwith Scotland?
Where would you like to visit on a modern pilgrimage outwith Scotland?

Mapping Kildonan
Have you a favourite place in the in Strath of Kildonan?
What is special about this place to you?
Where would you like to visit in the Strath of Kildonan?
What is special about this place to you?

Mapping responses so far….

Past events and picture galleries

Mini Pilgrimage Walks

Saturday 31 January
Helmsdale to Gartymore Land League Monument

Saturday 14 February
Helmsdale Graveyard to Marrel: A monk’s journey

Saturday 21 February
West Helmsdale to Gartymore: A peatcutter’s Journey

Mini Pilgrimage Walks | West Helmsdale to Gartymore: A Peatcutter’s Journey | 21 Feb 2015 from Timespan on Vimeo.

Saturday 28 February
Helmsdale to Navidale: Following in the Footsteps of St Ninian

Saturday 14 March
Around Helmsdale: Maker’s Journey with Deirdre Nelson

Saturday 21 March
Gartymore to Badstor: A crofter’s Journey

Pilgrimage Trips

In the Footsteps of St. Donan

Wednesday 11 March
Ballachly Monastic Site, Dunbeath, Caithness

Saturday 28 March
Sueno’s Stone and Kinloss Cistercian Abbey, Moray

Resources and downloads

Modern Pilgrimage thought mapping responses

St Donan and the Picts illustrated presentation

Helmsdale to Gartymore Land League Monument information sheet

Sueno’s Stone and Kinloss Abbey trip itinerary

References and reading

Scott, A.B., 1904. The Pictish Nation: It’s People and it’s Church. T.N. Foulis, Edinburgh

Gordon, Sir R., c1630. Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland. Published in 1813.

Smyth, A.P., 1989. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD80-1000. Edinburgh University Press

Sage Rev. A., The Old Statistical Account of Scotland 1791-99 (Kildonan and Loth Parishes).

Origines Parochiales Scotiae. The Antiquities Ecclesiastical and Territorial of the Parishes of Scotland. Vol. II.2. 1855. Edinburgh: The Bannatyne Club.

Shaw, L. & Gordon, J.F.S. (1692-1777). History of the Province of Moray. London, Hamilton, Adams & co.; Glasgow, T. D. Morison 1882.

Kinloss, Abbey Of. (2013). pp. 37-8. Records of the Monastery of Kinloss: With Illustrative Documents. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1872)

The future for Monastic North
We would like to hear from anyone interested in continuing the research into monastic north in 2015. Please email: archive@timespan.org.uk or tel. 01431 821327

In the Footsteps of St Donan will prepare us for a journey further afield for the next phase of Modern Pilgrimage where participants will interact with and respond to the 58 Latitude project.