Iona Abbey

High crosses




Replica of St John’s Cross

   

St Martin’s Cross

   

St Oran’s Cross

Replica of St John’s Cross

St Martin’s Cross

St Oran’s Cross


Three high crosses (St John’s, St Matthew’s and St Martin’s) formerly stood in front of the abbey’s west door, and a fourth (St Oran’s) in Reilig Odhrain. Only St Martin’s remains in situ, looking down on an ever-changing world for more than 1,200 years. St Martin’s is sculpted from a single stone. The west face has scenes from the Bible. The east face is richly adorned with bosses and serpents. Slots in the ends of the side-arms once held decorative mounts.

St John’s is a concrete replica, but originally erected here around the same time that the shrine chapel was built. It was designed so that, late in the day, a precise shadow of the cross would be cast onto the doorway into the shrine, emphasizing the great sanctity of this spot.