Scottish Island of Iona
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
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