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Junior Tour Guides make their Debut at Iona Abbey

8 May 2009

As part of Historic Scotland’s ongoing and extensive Education Programme, Junior Guides have, for a number of years, been delighting primary school groups with tours at various historic sites across Scotland – including Linlithgow Palace, Claypotts Castle, Doune Castle and Stanley Mills.

Involving a long-term partnership between Historic Scotland and local schools, the Junior Guides Initiative involves training pupils from primary schools to deliver, in period costume, guided tours of their local historic site to children from visiting primary school groups.

The Junior Guides Initiative has grown in popularity over the past few years and continues to expand.  The latest development involves a partnership between Iona Abbey and Iona Primary School to form the Iona Abbey Junior Tour Guides.  

Following lots of hard work over recent months to prepare for their new role, four pupils from Iona Primary made their debut today, Friday 8th May, as Iona Abbey Junior Tour Guides.  They are now ready to lead tours of other primary school groups during May and June and, along with other Junior Guides across Scotland, will form part of Historic Scotland’s Schools Programme for 2009/10.  

The Iona Abbey Junior Tour Guides will wear specially created monks’ costumes when they show visiting youngsters around the Abbey, telling them about the lives of the monks who lived and worshipped at this fascinating heritage attraction and important spiritual site, and those of other key characters in its history including St Columba and the Vikings.

Iona Abbey Monument Manager Jane Martin said: “We are delighted to have further developed our links with our local primary school through the Junior Guides Initiative. The Iona Primary pupils have shown great enthusiasm in this project and I’m sure they’ll do a superb job showing visiting groups of pupils around the Abbey and bringing its fascinating past to life for them to help them learn about its history.”

Iona Primary Headteacher Liz Kennedy said: “This is a wonderful experience for the pupils.  Historic Scotland’s Junior Guides Initiative encompasses so many aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence, and becoming Junior Tour Guides not only helps the pupils increase their understanding and appreciation of the heritage on their doorstep, but also helps them build their confidence.”

Primary schools wishing to arrange a free 30-minute tour of Iona Abbey by the Iona Abbey Junior Tour Guides should contact the Abbey directly on 01681 700512.  (The maximum size of tour groups is 15 pupils.)

Notes for editors

  • Iona Abbey is on the island of Iona; public ferry from Fionnphort, Mull.  Postcode PA76 6SQ. Tel: 01681 700512.  Admission to the Abbey: adult £4.70, child £2.35; concessions £3.70.

  • Iona Abbey is one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites. It was founded by St Columba and his Irish followers in AD 563.  A celebrated focus for Christian pilgrimage, Iona retains its spiritual atmosphere and remains a vibrant place of worship.  The abbey and monastic buildings were restored over a century ago. Iona’s historical and religious attractions include the abbey church and cloister, St Columba’s shrine, the site of St Columba’s writing cell and a superb collection of over 180 medieval carved stones and crosses. The abbey graveyard includes the graves of many early Scottish kings and chiefs including Macbeth.

  • Iona Abbey is amongst over 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites are in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871