Promoting Christian pilgrimage in Scotland
The research of Dr Ian Bradley, of the School of Divinity into the history of Christian pilgrimage and its recent revival, specifically in Scotland but also across Europe, has fed directly into the activities of churches, heritage bodies and specialist travel companies.
Dr Bradley’s research has focused on the importance of the practice and theme of pilgrimage in Ireland and Scotland in the so called ‘golden age of Celtic Christianity’ in the sixth and seventh centuries, explored in his books Columba: Pilgrim and Penitent (Wild Goose Publications, 2000) and Colonies of Heaven (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2006). His important study Pilgrimage: A Spiritual and Cultural Journey (Lion Books, 2010), so far translated into Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese and Arabic, demonstrates the extent and nature of the revival of interest in Christian pilgrimage across Europe over the last 40 years.
Dr Bradley’s research on the history of pilgrimage has led him to be invited to speak to the Scottish Parliament on the potential for pilgrimage related tourism in Scotland and to numerous radio and television appearances, most recently speaking to Neil Oliver about Iona on the 2014 BBC2 Series ‘The Sacred Wonders of Britain’.
His research into initiatives and practices for pilgrimage is being applied by churches, contemporary Christian communities, including the Iona Community, and heritage bodies, such as Historic Scotland, both to stimulate pilgrimages to significant historic and spiritual sites and as a basis for developing new pilgrim routes. For the last 10 years, Dr Bradley has been devising and leading pilgrimages around St Andrews, including the St Andrew’s Day and Good Friday pilgrimages. In 2010, at the invitation of Pax Travel, the leading pilgrimage operators in the UK, he led a pilgrimage across Scotland from Iona to St Andrews. He is closely involved with the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum in the current research and development of long distance pilgrim ways across Scotland from Iona to St Andrews and across Fife from St Andrews to Edinburgh via Dunfermline. His involvement is bringing about the development of pilgrim routes across Scotland.