History of Iona


is one of the great attractions of Iona, as it was the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.

St. Columba arrived here in his coracle in 563AD to bring Christianity to Britain. The island is home to the ruins of an ancient nunnery, a medieval abbey, and the burial ground of 48 Scottish kings.  Few other small islands have this amount of history, all within walking distance of each other.

For the history of neighbouring Mull, click here

Iona Abbey history

Iona Abbey St Martins and Johns Cross

Iona Abbey

The Isle of Iona's most important historic feature, holding the whole history of Christianity and Iona within its walls.  Read More

history of iona nunnery

Iona Nunnery

The picturesque Nunnery ruins, with the tranquil cloister gardens, are close to the ferry landing. The Iona Nunnery was formerly a Benedictine convent, established in 1203, with Beatrice, daughter of Somerled, as first prioress. READ MORE

History of the Hermit cell on Iona

The Hermit Cell

This Hermit Cell is a powerful testimony to the power of religious conviction in the history of the island. This ancient ruin is thought to have been built by a devout hermit although it may be merely an animal enclosure. READ MORE

History of the Marble Quarry

Marble Quarry

The quarry was first opened in the late 1700s by the Duke of Argyll but did not operate for long because the marble was difficult to extract and transport was uneconomical. It reopened in 1907 and closed again at the end of World War I. READ MORE

St. Oran's Chapel history

St. Oran's Chapel

This chapel stands in its own burial ground, Reilig Odhrain, thought to be the final resting place of 48 Kings of Scotland and Norway. Oran was a relative and disciple of St. Columba. READ MORE