Iona Abbey and Nunnery

One of my main draws to go to Isle of Mull was the chance to visit Iona. There is so much history connected to this small island. I’ve read lot about the Vikings and therefore knew that they attacked this island several times. The first time they attacked was in 795, so imagine what life on this remote island must have looked like to be even a target for the gold-hungry Vikings. Iona was the religious center for Western Europe at that time, and had been so for over 200 years, before the first attack.

Once we got down to Fionphort, we bought our tickets, and took the passenger ferry to Iona. Except for a few cars everybody else crossed on foot. There are no tourist with cars allowed on Iona.

arriving on Iona @Scotland

The first building we passed was the former nunnery. Although a ruin, it’s still one of the best preserved medieval British nunneries. On the outside of the refectory a naked female form is still visible (with a lot of imagination).

Iona nunnery @Iona

naked female form @Iona nunnery

From the nunnery it was only a short way to the abbey and its church. Here the Book of Kells, a medieval manuscript from the 9th century, was kept until it was whisked away to Dublin for safekeeping.

approaching the Abbey @Iona

The oldest remaining part of the abbey is the small house in the middle, St. Odhrain’s chapel, built around the beginning of the 12th century.

the Abbey in all its glory @Iona

In front of the church entrance on the right stand St. Martin’s cross, erected in the 12th century. Its intricate details are a sight to behold. The other cross, nearer to the abbey, is a replica from 1970.

St. Martin’s Cross @Iona

The abbey church was built in the 13th century, but needed a lot of renovation in the early 20th century. The plain inside with rough stone walls left me in awe of the achievement of these monks. Even today Iona is a very remote place and still they managed to build such an important religious site centuries ago.

abbey church @Iona

We walked through the cloister, a light and airy structure.

cloister @Iona Abbey

At the abbey museum, which displayed a number of wonderfully carved stones, we took in the treasures of the past.

Mackinnon’s Cross from 1489 @Iona Abbey museum

grave slab from the 14th century @Iona Abbey museum

While we were in the museum the rain came back in full force and pelted on us on the way to the ferry. But I felt it fit with our visit of Iona. This is such a historical site that the bad weather just adds to the mystical flair of this place. Yours, Pollybert

last look on Abbot hill, the possible place of St. Columba’s writing hut @Iona Abbey

Let me know what you think

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