Sundials in Ireland - Medieval Dials

Island of Iona, Scotland


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In 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. There are several examples of these in the present day Iona Abbey Museum. One such is known as MacKinnon's Cross. The Latin inscription reads :

"Hec est crux Laoclanni maic Fingone et eivs filii Iohannis abbatis de Hy facta Anno Domini mcccclxxxix”

"This is the cross of Lachlan MacKinnon and his son John, Abbot of Iona erected in the year of Our Lord 1489"

John MacKinnon was the last Benedictine Abbot of Iona from 1467 to 1498.



The picture left shows the base which supports MacKinnon's Cross which has a sundial carved near the bottom left corner.





I have been informed that this sundial base is no longer on display??




The drawing left is of the base which supports MacKinnon's Cross. May have been originally made for a slightly larger cross and reused for the MacKinnon as the slot is larger than required.
The enlarged drawing shows that it has twenty-four radiating lines, some of which end in crosses. The Maltese cross was used on maps to indcate North and on sundials noon. The edge-moulding was added in the 17th century removing part of the dial.


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


If you have a photo of this dial please email it to me Click here to email M.J.Harley