Iona Abbey and Nunnery
Probably Scotland’s most famous early-Christian site, Iona was founded by St Columba and his followers in AD 563. Despite Viking raids around 800, Columba’s monastery thrived for centuries, though it was supplanted by a Benedictine abbey around 1200. An important focus for pilgrimage, Iona retains its spiritual atmosphere and remains a vibrant place of worship. In the early 1900s, the abbey church was restored, and in 1938 the Iona Community was founded, to train ministers and continue the tradition of worship and teaching at the abbey. Its members also began to restore the monastic buildings. Iona’s historical and religious attractions include the abbey church and cloister, St Columba’s shrine, the site of his writing cell and a superb collection of over 180 medieval carved stones and crosses. In the graveyard adjoining the abbey, early Scottish and Irish kings are said to be buried, among them Macbeth. Near the abbey are the attractive ruins of the Augustinian nunnery, established at the same time as the Benedictine monastery.