Celtic spirituality

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Below are some of the locations in the UK and Ireland that are strong in Celtic heritage. Scroll down the page to see the map and find a description of each place.


A favourite saying of Celtic Christians is this: “Let your feet follow your heart until you find your place of resurrection.” Celtic Christians love to go on pilgrimage for two reasons: to leave behind comfort zones and selfish, clinging ways, and to discover the adventure of God’s will unfolding. There are now many guides to ancient sacred sites and new places of peace, beauty or meaning. We can each find our own.


Iona, Scotland

A Celtic monastery was established by St Columba on Iona in the 6th century. The Iona Community was founded in 1938 as an ecumenical Christian community committed to seeking new ways of living the Christian faith in today’s world.

Lindisfarne, Northumberland

This cradle of English Christianity was described as “the holiest place in England” by Alcuin, advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. From here, St Aidan and St Cuthbert spread the Christian faith north and south.

Whithorn, Scotland

Ninian founded the first large Celtic-style Christian community here in the 5th century. The Whithorn Dig is excavating the site, and provides a focus for visitors. Half a mile away on the shore hundreds of pilgrims have inscribed prayers on the rocks at St Ninian’s Cave.

Whitby, Yorkshire

The ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey and the magnificent Caedmon Cross in the churchyard opposite stand out like sentinels on this cliff top site. This was once the largest English monastic community for men and women. The Order of The Holy Paraclete offer retreat accommodation at St Hilda’s Priory.

Glencolubkille and Garton, Ireland

Garton is the birthplace of St Columba, and he described Glencolumbkille as “Glen of the psalms and the prayers, glen of Heaven.”

Bradwell, Essex

The 9th century chapel founded by St Cedd of Lindisfarne.

Glendalough, Ireland

At the foot of the Wicklow mountains, some 25 miles from Dublin, this is the best preserved Celtic “monastic city” in the world, with its round tower, seven Celtic churches and modern visitor’s centre, which tells the story of its founding saint, Kevin.

St David’s and St Non’s, Wales

St David’s Cathedral is near the site of the great monastic community founded by Wales’s patron saint. At nearby St Non’s, a well and retreat house mark the traditional site where David’s mother, Non, gave birth, and is the start of a coastal pilgrim trail.

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About this module

Early Christianity in Celtic lands had a more natural, less imperial feel than it did elsewhere and it’s spirituality is reviving today. Read here about its history, themes, places and prayers.

This has a strong sense of God’s presence in creation and in everyday life, celebrates God through all the senses, releases creativity, respects both women’s and men’s gifts and values contemplation.

Ray Simpson lives and works on Holy Island in Northumbria. He is the author of Exploring Celtic Spirituality and Celtic Blessings. Our thanks go to him for his contribution to this module.

Categories: Spirituality, Experiential,


Module contents

arrow Introduction to Celtic Christianity

arrow History

arrow Themes

arrow Places

arrow Prayers

arrow Blessings

arrow Books

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