Why Pilgrimage?

Why should you consider going on a Pilgrim Journey? What is the essence of pilgrimage past and present?

Traditionally, people often went on pilgrimage for very specific reasons. They had a burden of guilt that could be lifted by visiting a shrine and receiving remission for their sins. Or people were afflicted with some form of illness and pain that might be relieved by the prayers of the Saint connected with a holy shrine. Or again they wished to intercede for someone else, living or dead, whom a particular Saint might aid, physically or spiritually.

Many people also went, sometimes long distances, to enjoy a more general sense of occasion at a special feast day or festival. On such days the churches would be beautifully decorated, music and worship were awe-inspiring, while touching the Saint’s relics would be a high point for which people queued for hours. Often fairs and feasting followed the fasting and devotion. This was the famous medieval rhythm of Carnival and Lent, repeated throughout the year.

It is interesting that historically the journeys were demanding and sometimes arduous. So wayside shrines and inns flourished and a range of devotions and entertainments developed to keep folk going. Hence of course the Canterbury Tales!

Today, all of these reasons may still apply in different ways and in different regions of the world. But in the developed west, pilgrimage may be a more reflective and internalised pastime. The journey seems as important as the destination, and people often undertake a pilgrim route as a form of ‘time out’ or refreshing, without a specifically religious objective. In a sense, like so many aspects of contemporary culture, pilgrimage is what you choose to make of it. People travel individually, as couples, families or groups, and shape their own experience within the archetypal patterns of journey and place.

The renaissance of pilgrimage in the west is rooted in this combination of ancient roots with contemporary openness. There are still specific shrines and devotions but here also is a way to explore spiritual values in the context of landscape, heritage, art and devotion. The departure point is unconstrained, the way of arriving undetermined, and the nature of the destination both highly personal and deeply resonant. Pilgrimage is recreation and re-creation for all tastes, ages, cultures and backgrounds. Enjoy.


Christian Heritage & Sacred Scotland

As well as offering a unique spiritual experience Scotland’s Pilgrim Journeys take you to some of the most important christian heritage sites in the UK including the Isle of Whithorn, Iona and St Andrews and magnificent buildings such as Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Dunfermline Abbey, Dunkeld Cathedral, Glasgow Cathedral and Lindisfarne and Durham Cathedral in England.

Historic Scotland’s Explorer Pass

Pay only once and enjoy admission to Scotland's top visitor attractions.

Whether you’re looking for a family day out or have an interest in Scottish History you’ll find plenty to do at Historic Scotland properties.

-        Pass Benefits:

-        Free entry to Historic Scotland's 78 paid properties

-        Free entry to a fantastic programme of daytime events

-        Free souvenir passport to record your visits

-        Beat the queues at Edinburgh & Stirling Castles

-        20% discount on audio guides at Edinburgh Castle

Find out more about the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass.

In our links section of this website we have provided useful links to both church and tourism related websites to help you organise your pilgrimage or church heritage holiday to Scotland. Our national tourism website VisitScotland also provides a national listing of holiday accommodation including holiday cottages, self-catering, hostels and bunkhouses, Bed & Breakfasts and Hotels.