Iona Abbey

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Iona Abbey is situated on the Isle of Iona, about 1 mile off the west coast of the Isle of Mull. Iona is popular for the Abbey, Walking, Small White Beaches, Island Heritage Centre, and Boat Tours to the smaller Isle of Staffa with Fingals Cave.

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The image top is of the Ferry at Fionnphort on the southwest of the Isle of Mull. This is a short crossing of about one mile with the Ferry running about every 30 minutes.

Regular Buses run between Fionnphort and Graignure on the east coast of Mull, 35 miles apart. Regular Ferries run between Craignure and Oban on the Scottish Mainland. The Buses normally run to suit the Ferries. You can also book Ferry/Coach Tours through the website: westcoasttours.co.uk

The Boat next to the Ferry is for Trips to the Isle of Staffa for Fingals Cave, another top attraction in Scotland. Two companies are StaffaTours and StaffaTrips

The Ferries dock at Baile Mor Village on Iona with about a one mile walk from the Ferry Slip to Iona Abbey. You get great views of the Abbey from the Ferry.

Iona Abbey is one of the most historic places, and in one of the most picturesque places in Scotland. It is open to the public most of the year with an entrance fee. Abbey Website

Large Stone Crosses and St Columba's Shrine are at the entrance to the Abbey.

The main Church is next to St Columba's Shrine, and Cloister next to the Church.

Around the Cloister are a number of early Grave Slabs.

By the Cloister are a large Gift Shop and Cafe.

The Museum is in the Abbey Grounds, containing large Stone Crosses, Grave Slabs, and information on the Abbey from the 600s - today.

St Orans Chapel is situated next to the Abbey with a Graveyard, thought to be where many early Scottish Kings and Noblemen were buried. John Smith the Scottish Politician is also buried at St Orans.

The Low Door Shop is next to the Abbey with a selection of Gifts.

St Columba Hotel is also next to the Abbey with great views.

Oran Creative Crafts is situated between Iona Abbey and Baile Mor Village.

Iona Heritage Centre is also between the Abbey and Village, giving information on the Island and its People.

Next to the Heritage Centre is Iona Parish Church built in 1828. In front of the Church is MacLean's Cross, thought to have been erected in the 1400s.

Iona Nunnery is also between the Abbey and Village, built in the 1200s.

Baile Mor Village has Shops, Visitor Centre, Bar Diner, two small white Beaches, and is the starting point for walks around the Island. North Walk . South Walk

Iona Abbey History

400s - Scotland was divided into a number of Kingdoms, with the Isle od Iona said to have been in the Kingdom of Dal Riata, founded by Fergus the Great. It is unclear what religious beliefs people at that time had.

563 - the Irish Abbot Columba, traveled to the Isle of Iona where he set up the first Christian Church in Scotland.

700s & 800s - large stone Crosses were built at Iona Abbey, some are in the grounds, and others now in the Museum.

800s - Vikings began taking control of the Scottish Western Isles. They carried out a number of raids on the Isle of Iona, burning down the original wooden Columba Monastery.

818 - a stone Monastery was built to replace the original Columba wooden building.

825 & 849 - further Viking raids damaged the Monastery and led to the Monks fleeing to the mainland with Relics and Valuables. Some of the Relics were taken to Dunkeld Cathedral in Perth.

Even after the Viking attacks, the Church at Iona continued to attracted many visitors from all over Scotland, including Kings and Noblemen. It is claimed many of the early Kings in Scotland, and Noblemen, were buried at Iona Abbey, up to the 1000s. There are a vast number of Grave Slabs at Iona Abbey, with inscriptions showing they are for wealthy individuals, and many of Knights with armour and weapons.

Other Christian Churches were later built on the mainland such as Dunkeld from 500s after Columba visited Dunkeld, St Andrews from 747, and Dunfermline Abbey from 1070s.

1070s - King Malcom III and his wife Margaret, later Saint Margaret, had the earliest parts of Dunfermline Abbey built. This was the family that eventually gained control of all Scotland, under one King. Margaret had some work carried out to restore Iona Abbey.

1100s - Somerled, part Viking, became King of the Isles, building St Oran’s Chapel next to Iona Abbey to serve as his family burial place. The Augustinian Nunnery was established around that time. The MacDonald Lords of the Isles were descendants of Somerled.

1164 - Somerled was was killed in battle on the Scottish mainland by a descendant of Malcom III.

1200 - Reginald MacDonald, son of Somerled, built a large Benedictine Monastery on the site of the original St Columba Monastery.

1263 - forces of King Alexander III defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Largs, leading to the Vikings being forced out of the Western Isles.

The MacDonald's, descendants of Vikings, were then given the title Lord of the Isles, so they could run the Islands for the Scottish Kings.

1314 - Angus Og MacDonald fought bravely alongside Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn, leading the MacDonald's being held in high regard by Scottish Kings.

1400s - Iona Abbey was extended to give more space for the vast number of pilgrims visiting the Abbey.

1493 - the MacDonald's sided with the English to try and overthrow the Scottish King James IV. The Scottish King found out about the MacDonald plan, leading to him taking their title, Lord of the Isles, from them.

The Kings then ruled the Western Isles with their own forces.

1549 - a survey claimed 48 Dal Riata Kings were buried at Iona Abbey, as well as 8 Norwegian, and 4 Irish Kings.

1560 - the Reformation led to Iona Abbey being abandoned as Catholic worship was then outlawed. Over 300 stone crosses are believed to have been taken from the site around that time.

1828 - the Church and Manse were built on the outskirts of Baile Mor Village for Protestant worship.

1874 - the 8th Duke of Argyll had work carried out to preserve the Abbey ruins.

1899 - ownership of the Abbey, Nunnery, and St Oran's Chapel were transferred to the Iona Cathedral Trust.

1902 - restoration of the Abbey began

1965 - the Iona Abbey seen today was completed including a Cafe, Museum, and Gift Shop.

1990 - the Manse was converted to serve as the Iona Heritage Centre.

Today - Prince Charles is known as the Lord of the Isles.

 

 

 

 



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