Friday, 14 June 2013


IONA ABBEY, founded sometime prior to 1203 on the site where St Columba built his monastery in the sixth century, was built following Ranald Somerled’s invitation to the Benedictine order of monks to construct a new monastery - and the first Benedictine nunnery - on the site of the original church.

Comprising a church dedicated to St Mary, and a monastery in the name of St Columba, the abbey became the Cathedral of the Bishops of the Isles in 1499.

Reportedly ransacked and vandalised by a reforming mob in 1561, by the late 17th century, the abbey was largely ruined.

Work began to restore the abbey towards the end of the 1800s, with the Iona Community taking over the day-to-day running of the abbey in 1938.

Historic Scotland has been researching the archaeology of the abbey as part of their re-presentation of the site.

In this image from around 1900, kindly provided by the RCAHMS, several ghostly figures appear to be walking across the courtyard. The result of a simple double exposure? Or is it a case of the paranormal being captured in an old photo?

• RCAHMS is Scotland’s national collection for information, images and materials on the built environment (from prehistory to the present)

Story: Scotsman

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