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Scottish Island of Iona

Iona.jpg (10849 bytes)Iona is credited with being the launch point of Christianity into Scotland. The tiny 1800acre island has a special significance for all Christians because that is where in 563AD, Columba and his followers arrived from Ireland to extend the religion in Scotland and the north of England.
Iona abbey, other sacred buildings and historic sites are visited by pilgrims from all over the world.
Iona lies approximately one mile (1.6 km) from the coast of Mull. The island is 1 mile wide (1.6 km) and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long with a resident population of 125.
The Book of Kells, a famous illuminated manuscript, was produced by the monks of Iona in the years leading up to 800. The Chronicle of Ireland was also produced at Iona until about 740.
In 806, everyone at the abbey was found dead. This has been attributed to a Viking massacre. Three other Viking attacks are recorded within eleven years of this date. By the 13th century, Iona had become a Benedictine establishment. Another Benedictine foundation, the Iona Nunnery, was established nearby in 1203.
WIth the advent of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, Iona along with numerous other abbeys throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland were closed or destroyed. Many of Iona's buildings were demolished.
Iona Nunnery survives as a series of exquisitely beautiful 12th-13th century ruins of the church and cloister, and a colourful and peaceful garden. Unlike the rest of the medieval religious buildings, the nunnery was too fragmentary to restore, though its remains are nevertheless the most complete survival of a medieval nunnery in Scotland. Away from the historic buildings, Iona offers enjoyable walks to the north of the island, with pristine white sand beaches, and south and west to the Bay at the Back of the Atlantic. Pebbles of the famous green Iona marble, commercially mined in the 19th century (the quarry and original machinery survive) can be found on the island's beaches.
Visitors can reach Iona by the 10-minute ferry trip across the Sound of Iona from Fionnphort on Mull. The most common route is via Oban in Argyll & Bute. Regular ferries connect to Craignure on Mull, from where the scenic road runs 37 miles to Fionnphort. Tourist coaches and local bus servics 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. The island is small enough that one generally doesn't need a car. Bike hire is available at the pier, and on Mull.

Iona off the west coast of Mull

       

 


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