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Major new online resource launched for Iona

27 August 2010

Bilingual website launched for island of Iona

A major new bilingual online resource has been launched for one of Scotland’s most celebrated sites, the Hebridean island of Iona.

The website, has been created by Historic Scotland – who cares for three of the most well known landmarks on the island - the Abbey, Iona Nunnery and MacLean’s Cross - to provide a bilingual portal for visitors to explore the island’s rich heritage.
                    Homepage of the Iona website, English version

The website, which received a grant from Bord Na Gaidhlig, is the first for the island to appear in both English and Gaelic, and provides an option for users to switch easily between both languages. This includes a series of educational resources which can be easily downloaded.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said;

“Iona has a long association with Gaelic. It was the spiritual heart of Gaelic-speaking Scotland in early medieval times, and many of its place names are still in Gaelic.  

“This website will provide Gaelic speakers and learners with a planning, research and educational tool to find out more about one of Scotland’s most significant sites and I hope they enjoy exploring this valuable new resource.”  

The new website is split into two easily navigated areas. The first, ‘About Iona’ provides an accessible introduction to the history and Christian heritage of the island – including its role as the burial place for a number of Scotland’s early medieval kings, whilst the second - the ‘Explore’ section, gives a brief, point-by-point guide to the monuments, artefacts and features of the island.

The website also includes a section on the fine collection of carved stones on Iona, including standing crosses and West Highland grave-slabs. A number of these appear in an illustrated section of the website to provide members of the public with a snapshot of some of the island’s most fascinating inhabitants. Meanwhile, an interactive timeline allows visitors to explore key dates in the island’s development.

Andrew Burnet, Publications and Information Manager for Historic Scotland, said;

“Iona has a celebrated history and its significance is felt not only in Scotland, but by people all over the world.

“We wanted to create a website which tells the island’s rich history in a new and fresh way as well as incorporating practical advice for people wishing to visit the island, ranging from accommodation through to events and activities.

“But we are also aware that there are many others with an interest in the island’s history who cannot make the journey so the website is also designed to provide a resource which can be utilised in a number of different ways.”

Arthur Cormack, Cathraiche (Chairman) of Bord na Gaidhlig said:

"Bord na Gaidhlig is delighted to have been able to support Historic Scotland in producing a valuable resource and highlighting the importance of the island of Iona to the history of the Gaelic language.  It will be particularly useful for children in Gaelic medium education, students and learners of the language.  Online resources such as this encourage greater use of the language and we need to make more of them available for the next generation of Gaelic speakers.”

The Iona website is now live. The Abbey is open all year round, seven days a week. Admission adult: £4.70. child: £2.80, concession, £3.80. Iona Nunnery and MacLean’s Cross are open all year, admission free.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


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. For more information visit

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For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858