Anniversary Celebration



The Return of St Oran's Cross to Iona

St Oran's Cross returns to Iona (Image courtesy of Donald MacLeod)


The year 2013 was special for the island of Iona. It marked 1450 years since the arrival of St. Columba on 19th May 563, as well as the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Iona Community. A series of celebratory events are being planned on the island and, to coincide with this special year, Historic Scotland has significantly improved the visitor experience at the abbey.

New interpretation and visitor facilities now help visitors to better appreciate the extraordinary contribution made by Columba’s monastery to society and culture, at home and abroad. This includes the complete redisplay of the site museum, entitled Iona Across Time, devoted to the most important collection of early Christian sculptures in Britain and Ireland. The museum tells the story from Columba’s time all the way through to the modern-day Iona Community. As well as new interpretation signage, an audio tour is now included within the ticket price ,in various languages, including Gaelic.

This is accompanied by a new display in the Chapter House of the remarkable story of the restoration of the abbey by the Iona Community in the 20th century.


Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, opening the new visitor facilities at the abbey on 19th May 2013, by ringing a replica saint’s hand bell.

Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, opening the
new visitor facilities at the abbey on 19th May 2013, by ringing a replica saint’s hand bell.


The centre-piece of the museum exhibition is the newly reassembled St Oran’s and St Matthew’s High Crosses, now displayed in their full glory for the first time in centuries.

New research into the history and archaeology of Iona has allowed us to present a much richer understanding of this remarkable place as Scotland’s most sacred site, ultimately making visits far more rewarding for our wide range of audiences.

So there has never been a better time to visit Iona Abbey and experience the tranquil surroundings, steeped in an unrivalled heritage of sanctity, and now beautifully presented for all to enjoy.

The new displays opened on 1st June 2013.