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Iona lectures to shed new light on Columba

3 June 2014

Historic Scotland and the Iona Community have partnered to produce a week-long residential course at Iona Abbey. Open to all and taking place from 7-13 June, the course will see a range of leading historians and archaeologists sharing some of the latest insights into the early church in Scotland.

The course coincides with the first anniversary of the completion of the Iona Abbey redisplay project, which tells visitors the extraordinary story of Columba and the centuries of religious life on Iona. A new Iona Abbey guide book, which is now on sale at the abbey, will also tell the story in greater detail than ever before.

To mark the anniversary, St Columba Day lectures will be given by internationally renowned academics. These will be open to the public on Monday 9 June at 10am in the Iona Village Hall. Tickets are £10 or are free to island residents who produce proof of address. They can be purchased on the door or at the Iona Community's Welcome Centre and Shop.

Prof Eamonn O' Carragain of University College Cork will speak about the complex designs of the high crosses and how these were originally intended to be read with the movement of the sun, while Prof Tom O'Loughlin of the University of Nottingham will explain how the Iona monks created their own idea of the holy places of Jerusalem in their own monastery at Iona in the 600s, as an aid to  their worship.

Peter Yeoman, Principal Heritage Researcher at Historic Scotland said: “Columba arrived on Iona in 563, introducing Christianity and literacy to large parts of Scotland for the first time. Today Historic Scotland welcomes around 60,000 visitors to Iona Abbey each year, and the new displays and audio guide help to bring the history of the place alive, giving visitors a better understanding of the contribution that Columba and the generations of monks who came after him made to European civilisation.”

To book a place on the residential course at Iona Abbey, visit

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Alice Wyllie
Historic Scotand Media Office
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096