Iona
Overview
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides
Inner Hebrides
The Inner Hebrides is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides. Together these two island chains form the Hebrides, which enjoy a mild oceanic climate. There are 36 inhabited islands and a further 43 uninhabited Inner Hebrides with an area greater than...

 off the western coast of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It was a centre of Irish monasticism
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

 for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats. Its modern Gaelic name means "Iona of (Saint) Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

" (formerly anglicised "Icolmkill").
The Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 have been occupied by the speakers of several languages since the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, and as a result many of the names of these islands have more than one possible meaning.
Encyclopedia
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides
Inner Hebrides
The Inner Hebrides is an archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, to the south east of the Outer Hebrides. Together these two island chains form the Hebrides, which enjoy a mild oceanic climate. There are 36 inhabited islands and a further 43 uninhabited Inner Hebrides with an area greater than...

 off the western coast of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It was a centre of Irish monasticism
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

 for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats. Its modern Gaelic name means "Iona of (Saint) Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

" (formerly anglicised "Icolmkill").

Etymology

The Hebrides
Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 have been occupied by the speakers of several languages since the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, and as a result many of the names of these islands have more than one possible meaning. Nonetheless few, if any, can have accumulated so many different names over the centuries as the island now known in English as "Iona".

The earliest forms of the name enabled place-name scholar William J. Watson
William J. Watson
Professor William J. Watson was a toponymist, one of the greatest Scottish scholars of the 20th century, and was the first scholar to place the study of Scottish place names on a firm linguistic basis....

 to show that the name originally meant something like "yew-place". The element Ivo-, denoting "yew
Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may be now known as the English yew, or European yew.-Description:It is a small-...

", occurs in Ogham inscriptions (Iva-cattos [genitive], Iva-geni [genitive]) and in Gaulish names (Ivo-rix, Ivo-magus) and may form the basis of early Gaelic names like Eogan (ogham: Ivo-genos). It is possible that the name is related to the mythological figure, Fer hÍ mac Eogabail, foster-son of Manannan, the forename meaning "man of the yew".

Mac an Tàilleir (2003) lists the more recent Gaelic names of Ì, Ì Chaluim Chille and Eilean Idhe noting that the first named is "generally lengthened to avoid confusion" to the second, which means "Calum's (i.e. in latinised form "Columba's") Iona" or "island of Calum's monastery". The possible confusion results from "ì", despite its original etymology, becoming a Gaelic noun (now obsolete) meaning simply "island". Eilean Idhe means "the isle of Iona", also known as Ì nam ban bòidheach ("the isle of beautiful women"). The modern English name comes from an 18th century misreading of yet another variant, Ioua, which was either just Adomnán's attempt to make the Gaelic name fit Latin grammar or else a genuine derivative from Ivova ("yew place"). Iouas change to Iona results from a transcription mistake resulting from the similarity of "n" and "u" in Insular Minuscule.

Despite the continuity of forms in Gaelic between the pre-Norse and post-Norse eras, Haswell-Smith (2004) speculates that the name may have a Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 connection, Hiōe meaning "island of the den of the brown bear", "island of the den of the fox", or just "island of the cave". The medieval English language version was "Icolmkill" (and variants thereof).
Table of earliest forms (incomplete)
Form Source Language Notes
Ioua insula Adomnán's Vita Columbae (c. 700) Latin Adomnán calls Eigg
Eigg
Eigg is one of the Small Isles, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It lies to the south of the Skye and to the north of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Eigg is long from north to south, and east to west. With an area of , it is the second largest of the Small Isles after Rùm.-Geography:The main...

 Egea insula and Skye Scia insula
Hii, Hy Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

Latin
Eoa, Iae, Ie,
I Cholaim Chille
Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

Irish, Latin U563 Nauigatio Coluim Chille ad Insolam Iae
"The journey of St Columba to Í"
U716 Pascha comotatur in Eoa ciuitate
"The date of Easter is changed in the monastery of Í")
U717 Expulsio familie Ie
"The expulsion of the community of Í"
U778 Niall...a nn-I Cholaim Chille
"Niall... in Í Cholaim Chille"
Hi, Eu Lebor na hUidre
Lebor na hUidre
Lebor na hUidre or the Book of the Dun Cow is an Irish vellum manuscript dating to the 12th century. It is the oldest extant manuscript in Irish. It is held in the Royal Irish Academy and is badly damaged: only 67 leaves remain and many of the texts are incomplete...

Irish Hi con ilur a mmartra
"Hi with the multitude of its relics"
in tan conucaib a chill hi tosuċ .i. Eu
"the time he raised his church first i.e. Eu"
Eo Walafrid Strabo
Walafrid Strabo
Walafrid, alternatively spelt Walahfrid, surnamed Strabo , was a Frankish monk and theological writer.-Theological works:...

 (c. 831)
Latin Insula Pictorum quaedam monstratur in oris fluctivago suspensa salo, cognominis Eo
"On the coasts of the Picts is pointed out an isle poised in the rolling sea, whose name is Eo"
Euea insula Life of St Cathróe of Metz Latin

Folk etymology

Murray (1966) claims that the "ancient" Gaelic name was Innis nan Druinich (the isle of Druid
Druid
A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

ic hermits") and repeats a Gaelic story (which he admits is apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l) that as Columba's coracle first drew close to the island one of his companions cried out "Chì mi i" meaning "I see her" and that Columba's response was "Henceforth we shall call her Ì".

Geography

Iona lies approximately 1.6 kilometre (0.994196378639691 mi) from the coast of Mull
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull or simply Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute....

. It is 1.6 kilometre (0.994196378639691 mi) wide and 5.6 kilometres (3 mi) long with a resident population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of 125. The geology of the island consists mainly of Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 Lewisian gneiss
Lewisian complex
The Lewisian complex or Lewisian Gneiss is a suite of Precambrian metamorphic rocks that outcrop in the northwestern part of Scotland, forming part of the Hebridean Terrane. These rocks are of Archaean and Paleoproterozoic age, ranging from 3.0–1.7 Ga. They form the basement on which the...

 with Torridonian
Torridonian
In geology, Torridonian describes a series of Neoproterozoic arenaceous sedimentary rocks, extensively developed in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, and particularly in the district of upper Loch Torridon, a circumstance which suggested the name Torridon Sandstone, first applied to these rocks...

 sedimentary rocks on the eastern side and small outcrops of pink granite on the eastern beaches. Like other places swept by ocean breezes, there are few trees with most of these being located around the parish church area.

Iona's highest point is Dùn Ì, 101 metres (331.4 ft), an Iron Age hill fort dating from 100 BC – 200 AD. Its geographical features include the Bay at the Back of the Ocean
Bay at the Back of the Ocean
The Bay at the Back of the Ocean is the English translation for Camas Cuil an t-Saimh .It is a wide, west facing bay on the island of Iona, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and is so named because the next westward stop is North America....

 and Càrn Cùl ri Éirinn (the Hill/Cairn
Cairn
Cairn is a term used mainly in the English-speaking world for a man-made pile of stones. It comes from the or . Cairns are found all over the world in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, and also in barren desert and tundra areas...

 of [turning the] Back to Ireland), said to be adjacent to the beach where St. Columba first landed.

The main settlement, located at St. Ronan's Bay on the eastern side of the island, is called Baile Mòr and is also known locally as "The Village". The primary school, post office, the island's two hotels, the Bishop's House
Bishop's House Iona
Bishop's House Iona was built when Iona Abbey was still in ruins to provide a place for Episcopalians on the island of Iona, and is used by the Episcopal Diocese of Argyll and The Isles as a retreat house. Constructed in 1894, it was called Saint Columba's House after the chapel at its centre...

 and the ruins of the Nunnery
Iona Nunnery
The Iona Nunnery was an Augustinian convent located on the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. It was established sometime after the foundation of the nearby Benedictine monastery in 1203. Bethóc, daughter of Somerled, was first prioress. The ruins of the nunnery...

 are here. The Abbey and MacLeod Centre are a short walk to the north. Port Bàn (white port) beach on the west side of the island is home to the Iona Beach Party.

There are numerous offshore islets and skerries
Skerry
A skerry is a small rocky island, usually defined to be too small for habitation. It may simply be a rocky reef. A skerry can also be called a low sea stack....

 of which Eilean Annraidh (island of storm) and Eilean Chalbha (calf island) to the north, Rèidh Eilean and Stac MhicMhurchaidh to the west and Eilean Mùsimul (mouse holm island) and Soa Island to the south are amongst the largest. The steamer Cathcart Park carrying a cargo of salt from Runcorn
Runcorn
Runcorn is an industrial town and cargo port within the borough of Halton in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. In 2009, its population was estimated to be 61,500. The town is on the southern bank of the River Mersey where the estuary narrows to form Runcorn Gap. Directly to the north...

 to Wick
Wick, Highland
Wick is an estuary town and a royal burgh in the north of the Highland council area of Scotland. Historically, it is one of two burghs within the county of Caithness, of which Wick was the county town. The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay...

 ran aground on Soa on 15 April 1912, the crew of 11 escaping in two boats.

History

Iona was the site of a highly important monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 (see Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic...

) during the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

. According to tradition the monastery was founded in 563 by the monk Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

, also known as Colm Cille, who had been exiled from his native Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 as a result of his involvement in the Battle of Cul Dreimhne. Columba and twelve companions went into exile on Iona, then part of the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata
Dál Riata
Dál Riata was a Gaelic overkingdom on the western coast of Scotland with some territory on the northeast coast of Ireland...

, and founded a monastery there. The monastery was hugely successful, and played a crucial role in the conversion to Christianity of the Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 of present-day Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in the late 6th century and of the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 kingdom of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

 in 635. A large number of satellite institutions were founded, and Iona became the centre of one of the most important monastic systems
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

 in Great Britain and Ireland.

Iona quickly became a renowned center of learning, and its scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

 produced highly important documents, likely including the original texts of the Iona Chronicle, thought to be the source for the early Irish annals
Irish annals
A number of Irish annals were compiled up to and shortly after the end of Gaelic Ireland in the 17th century.Annals were originally a means by which monks determined the yearly chronology of feast days...

. The monastery is often associated with the distinctive practices and traditions known as Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

. In particular, Iona was a major supporter of the "Celtic" system for calculating the date of Easter during the time of the Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

, which pitted supporters of the Celtic system against those favoring the "Roman" system used elsewhere in Western Christianity. The controversy weakened Iona's ties to Northumbria, which adopted the Roman system at the Synod of Whitby
Synod of Whitby
The Synod of Whitby was a seventh century Northumbriansynod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Iona and its satellite institutions...

 in 664, and to Pictland, which followed suit in the early 8th century. Iona itself did not adopt the Roman system until 715, according to the Anglo-Saxon historian Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

. Iona's prominence was further diminished over the next centuries as a result of Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 raids and the rise of other powerful monasteries in the system, such as the Abbey of Kells
Abbey of Kells
The Abbey of Kells is a former monastery located in Kells, County Meath, Ireland, 40 miles north of Dublin. It was founded in the early ninth century, and the Book of Kells was kept there during the later medieval and early modern periods before finally leaving the Abbey in the 1650s...

.

The Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

 may have been produced or begun on Iona towards the end of the 8th century. Around this time the island's exemplary high cross
High cross
A high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. There was a unique Early Medieval tradition in Ireland and Britain of raising large sculpted stone crosses, usually outdoors...

es were sculpted; these may be the first such crosses to contain the ring around the intersection that became characteristic of the "Celtic cross
Celtic cross
A Celtic cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a ring surrounding the intersection. In the Celtic Christian world it was combined with the Christian cross and this design was often used for high crosses – a free-standing cross made of stone and often richly decorated...

". However, the series of Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 raids on Iona began in 794 and, after its treasures had been plundered many times, Columba's relics were removed and divided two ways between Scotland and Ireland in 849 as the monastery was abandoned. Though Iona was never important again to Ireland, it rose to prominence again in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 following the establishment of the Kingdom of Alba
Kingdom of Alba
The name Kingdom of Alba pertains to the Kingdom of Scotland between the deaths of Donald II in 900, and of Alexander III in 1286 which then led indirectly to the Scottish Wars of Independence...

 in the later 9th century. The ruling dynasty of Alba traced its origin to Iona, and the island thus became an important spiritual centre of the new kingdom, with many of its early kings buried there.

A convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

 for the order of Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 nuns was established in about 1208, with Bethóc
Bethóc, Prioress of Iona
Bethóc ingen Somairle was a 13th century prioress, considered to have been the first of Iona Nunnery. She was a daughter of Somairle mac Gilla Brigte....

, daughter of Somerled
Somerled
Somerled was a military and political leader of the Scottish Isles in the 12th century who was known in Gaelic as rí Innse Gall . His father was Gillebride...

, as first prioress. The present Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

, Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic...

, was built in about 1203. The monastery itself flourished until the Reformation
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

 when buildings were demolished and all but three of the 360 carved crosses destroyed. An Augustine nunnery survives as a number of 13th century ruins, including a church and cloister. The nunnery continued to be active until the Reformation. By the 1760s little more of the nunnery remained standing than at present, though it is the most complete remnant of a medieval nunnery in Scotland.

In the 19th century green-streaked marble was commercially mined in the south-east of Iona; the quarry and machinery survive.

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey, now an ecumenical church, is of particular historical and religious interest to pilgrims and visitors alike. It is the most elaborate and best-preserved ecclesiastical building surviving from the Middle Ages in the Western Isles of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Though modest in scale in comparison to medieval abbeys elsewhere in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, it has a wealth of fine architectural detail, and monuments of many periods.

In front of the Abbey stands the 9th century St Martin's Cross, one of the best-preserved Celtic crosses in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, and a replica of the 8th century St John's Cross (original fragments in the Abbey museum).

The ancient burial ground, called the Rèilig Odhrain (Eng: Oran's "burial place" or "cemetery"), contains the 12th century chapel of St Odhrán
Saint Otteran
Odran or Odhran , a descendant of Conall Gulban, is usually identified with Odhron , who preceded Saint Columba in Iona. His death is recorded in 548 and his grave was greatly revered in Iona....

 (said to be Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

's uncle), restored at the same time as the Abbey itself. It contains a number of medieval grave monuments. The abbey graveyard contains the graves of many early Scottish Kings, as well as kings from Ireland, Norway and France. Iona became the burial site for the kings of Dál Riata
Dál Riata
Dál Riata was a Gaelic overkingdom on the western coast of Scotland with some territory on the northeast coast of Ireland...

 and their successors. Notable burials there include:
  • Cináed mac Ailpín, king of the Picts (also known today as "Kenneth I of Scotland")
  • Domnall mac Causantín, alternatively "king of the Picts" or "king of Alba" (i.e. Scotland; known as "Donald II")
  • Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, king of Scotland ("Malcolm I")
  • Donnchad mac Crínáin, king of Scotland ("Duncan I")
  • Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, king of Scotland ("Macbeth")
  • Domnall mac Donnchada, king of Scotland ("Domnall Bán" or "Donald III")
  • John Smith Labour Party Leader


In 1549 an inventory of 48 Scottish, 8 Norwegian and 4 Irish kings was recorded. None of these graves are now identifiable (their inscriptions were reported to have worn away at the end of the 17th century). Saint Baithin and Saint Failbhe may also be buried on the island. The Abbey graveyard is also the final resting place of John Smith
John Smith (UK politician)
John Smith was a British Labour Party politician who served as Leader of the Labour Party from July 1992 until his sudden death from a heart attack in May 1994...

, the former Labour Party leader, who loved Iona. His grave is marked with an epitaph quoting Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

: "An honest man's the noblest work of God".

Other early Christian and medieval monuments have been removed for preservation to the cloister arcade of the Abbey, and the Abbey museum (in the medieval infirmary). The ancient buildings of Iona Abbey are now cared for by Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government, responsible for historic monuments in Scotland.-Role:As its website states:...

 (entrance charge).

Iona Community

In 1938 George MacLeod
George MacLeod
George Fielden MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary, MC was a Scottish soldier and clergyman; he was one of the best known, most influential and unconventional Church of Scotland ministers of the 20th century. He was the founder of the Iona Community.-Early life:He was born in Glasgow in 1895...

 founded the Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Christian church committed to seeking new ways of living the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in today's world. This community is a leading force in the present Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

 revival.

The Iona Community runs 3 residential centres on the Isle of Iona and on Mull
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull or simply Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute....

. These are places of welcome and engagement giving a unique opportunity to live together in community with people of every background from all over the world. Weeks at the centres often follow a programme related to the concerns of the Iona Community.

The 8 tonne Fallen Christ sculpture by Ronald Rae
Ronald Rae
Ronald Rae is a British sculptor born in Ayr, Scotland, in 1946. Works, by hand, in granite. His largest work to date is the 20 tonne Lion of Scotland. Solo exhibitions include Regents Park, London and Holyrood Park, Edinburgh...

 was permanently situated outside the MacLeod Centre in 2008.

Transport

Visitors can reach Iona by the 10-minute ferry trip across the Sound of Iona
Sound of Iona
The Sound of Iona is a sound between the Inner Hebridean islands of Mull and Iona in western Scotland. It forms part of the Atlantic Ocean....

 from Fionnphort
Fionnphort
Fionnphort is the principal port of the Ross of Mull, and the second largest settlement in the locale . Fionnphort is the base of the ferry service between 'mainland' Mull and Iona, and also boat trips to Staffa...

 on Mull
Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull or simply Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland in the council area of Argyll and Bute....

. The most common route is via Oban
Oban
Oban Oban Oban ( is a resort town within the Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. It has a total resident population of 8,120. Despite its small size, it is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William and during the tourist season the town can be crowded by up to 25,000 people. Oban...

 in Argyll and Bute
Argyll and Bute
Argyll and Bute is both one of 32 unitary council areas; and a Lieutenancy area in Scotland. The administrative centre for the council area is located in Lochgilphead.Argyll and Bute covers the second largest administrative area of any Scottish council...

. Regular ferries connect to Craignure
Craignure
Craignure is a village and the main ferry port on the Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute, Scotland.The village is located around Craignure Bay, on Mull's east coast. It has a population of roughly 200 people....

 on Mull, from where the scenic road runs 37 miles to Fionnphort. Tourist coaches and local bus services meet the ferries.

There are very few cars on the island, as they are tightly regulated and vehicular access is not allowed for non-residents, who have to leave their car in Fionnphort. Bike hire is available at the pier, and on Mull.

Media and the arts

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 wrote "That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer amid the ruins of Iona."

"Peace of Iona" is a song written by Mike Scott
Mike Scott (musician)
Michael 'Mike' Scott is the founding member, lead singer and chief songwriter of rock band The Waterboys. He has also produced two solo albums, Bring 'em All In and Still Burning...

 that appears on the studio album Universal Hall
Universal Hall
Universal Hall is a 2003 album released by The Waterboys. It is named after the theatre and performance hall at the Findhorn Foundation, which is pictured on the album cover. The album shows much more influence from folk music than its predecessor, A Rock in the Weary Land...

 and on the live recording Karma to Burn by The Waterboys
The Waterboys
The Waterboys are a band formed in 1983 by Mike Scott. The band's membership, past and present, has been composed mainly of musicians from Scotland, Ireland and England. Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Spiddal, New York, and Findhorn have all served as homes for the group. The band has played in a...

. Iona is the setting for the song "Oran" on the 1997 Steve McDonald album Stone of Destiny.

Kenneth C. Steven published an anthology of poetry entitled Iona: Poems in 2000 inspired by his association with the island and the surrounding area.

Iona is featured prominently in the first episode ("By the Skin of our Teeth") of the celebrated arts series Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark (1969).

The Academy Award-nominated Irish animated film The Secret of Kells is about the creation about the Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

. One of the characters, Brother Aiden, is a master illuminator
Illuminator
An Electro Luminescent Backlight LCD development used in some Casio watches . The Timex corporation has its very own similar technology called Indiglo.-History:...

 from Iona Abbey who had helped to illustrate the Book, but had to escape the island with it during a Viking invasion.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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