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Cottages in Scotland on Walkhighlands

Iona

IonaIona was the site of a highly important monastery (see Iona Abbey) during the Early Middle Ages. According to tradition the monastery was founded in 563 by the monk Columba, also known as Colm Cille, who had been exiled from his native Ireland as a result of his involvement in the Battle of Cul Dreimhne. Columba and twelve companions went into exile on Iona, then part of the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata, and founded a monastery there. The monastery was hugely successful, and played a crucial role in the conversion to Christianity of the Picts of present-day Scotland in the late 6th century and of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria in 635. A large number of satellite institutions were founded, and Iona became the centre of one of the most important monastic systems in Great Britain and Ireland.

The Book of Kells may have been produced or begun on Iona towards the end of the 8th century. Around this time the island's exemplary high crosses were sculpted; these may be the first such crosses to contain the ring around the intersection that became characteristic of the "Celtic cross". However, the series of IonaViking raids on Iona began in 794 and, after its treasures had been plundered many times, Columba's relics were removed and divided two ways between Scotland and Ireland in 849 as the monastery was abandoned. Though Iona was never important again to Ireland, it rose to prominence again in Scotland following the establishment of the Kingdom of Alba in the later 9th century. The ruling dynasty of Alba traced its origin to Iona, and the island thus became an important spiritual centre of the new kingdom, with many of its early kings buried there.

 

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