Iona (Isle of)

In early times known as Hi, Hy, and variants thereof, W.J. Watson (1926) thought that the name Iona derived from ‘the isle of the yew trees,’ with other speculations that it derives from ‘barley,’ and simply ‘island.’ But the Isle of Yews is the one which has stuck. And through association with this ancient sacred tree and the druids who lived here and used it as a place of teaching (Cnoc Druidean being one of their sacred spots), its tradition as a sacred place is old indeed. Although these days known as the place whence Columba brought christianity to Scotland, the process of changing the Old Ways to the christian virtues took centuries. It surely wasn’t as Walter Skene would have us believe – that when Columba turned up he merely expelled them all.  Nikolai Tolstoy (1985) makes claims for Iona to be “a Hebdridean omphalos.” It was certainly a place renowned as the burial place of ancient kings, and although much taken over by the Church as the centuries passed by, there are still remains of the old pre-christian elements scattered here and there on the body of this old rock, off the western tip of Mull.

IONA:  Bibliography & References

  1. Carn Cul ri Eirrim, Port Larraichean – Cairn
  2. Clach Brath, Baile Mor – Bullaun
  3. Clach na Glaistig, Buaile Staoineig – Sacred Rocks
  4. Cnoc Druidean – Sacred Rocks
  5. Dun Bhuirg, Culbuirg – Hillfort
  6. Dun I, Baile Mor – Hillfort
  7. MacLean’s Cross, Baile Mor – Cross
  8. Port Larraichean – Settlement
  9. Port Larraichean – ‘Stone Circle’
  10. Sithean Mor, Shian – Cairn Circle
  11. Street of the Dead, Baile Mor – Sacred Road
  12. Tobar na h-Aoise, Dun I – Holy Well
  13. Tobar na Gaoithe Tuath – Holy Well