Sundials in Ireland - Medieval Dials Island of Iona, Scotland
AD 563 Colmcille [Columba], an Irish monk and missionary left
Derry in Ireland and founded a monastery on the island of Iona
off the south west corner of Mull, Scotland. Over the years the
Abbey produced some of the most beautiful and intricately carved
"Celtic" high crosses, cross-slabs and grave-slabs in Ireland and Scotland.
During the reconstruction of the Abbey in the early 20th century
hundreds of pieces of carved masonry together with decorated High Crosses and cross slabs were collected from
around the Abbey and the graveyard. Some were left in place but
the bulk were put into storage. One such piece, now in storage, was an
which has a sundial carved into the bottom left corner of the slab.
The drawing left is of this 600mm x 600mm cross base
slab. It has twenty-four equally spaced radiating lines inside a
165mm diameter circle. Two of the lines end in small plain crosses and a third is a Maltese cross.
Maltese crosses were used on old maps to indicate North and on sundials to indicate noon.
Part of the dial was cut away when the edge-moulding was added later.
The island of Iona was a centre of Gaelic monasticism for many centuries. In 1536 Henry VIII,
following his split fom Rome, disbanded and destroyed Roman Catholic churches, monasteries, priories, convents and friaries,
and confiscated their treasures and income. This brought to an end monastic life on Iona and the
Abbey crumbled into ruin.
Today it has been restored and the island is known for its relative tranquility and natural environment.
As well as being a place for spiritual retreats it is also a popular tourist destination.
Click here to visit Iona's website
The main route to Iona is
by ferry from mainland Oban to Craignure on the east coast of Mull which takes around 50 minutes.
A scheduled bus service connects with another ferry which departs Fionnphort at the southwestern tip of Mull
and takes around 10 minutes to reach Port Ronain on Iona.
Lat 56° 20' North
Long 6° 25' West