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 [landx?] Laoclanni maic Fingone et eivs filii Johannis abbatis de Hy facta Anno Domini mcccclxxxix”.

This is the [pillar?] of Lachlan MacKinnon and his son John, Abbot of Iona in the year of Our Lord 1489.

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

This drawing shows the base which supported MacKinnon's Cross. Originally designed for a slightly larger cross it had been reused for the MacKinnon. Near one corner has been carved a sundial. It has twenty-four radiating lines, at least four of which end in crosses. Similar designs have been recorded in Ireland. The edge-moulding was added in the 17th century removing part of the dial.

(measurements are estimated)

The island of Iona was a centre of Gaelic monasticism for many centuries and is today known for its relative tranquility and natural environment. As well as being a tourist destination it is a place for spiritual retreats. Click here to visit Iona's website

The main route to Iona is by ferry from Oban to Craignure on the east coast of Mull which takes around 50 minutes. A scheduled bus service connects with the 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 or any of the other three please email it to me Click here to email M.J.Harley