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.
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 unattached cross base 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 photo left is a close-up of the sundial. Similar in style to the eight medieval dials known in Ireland

Photo by kind permission of Denis Cowan Click here to visit his website 'Sundials of Scotland'

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