History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
While the abbey was founded according to the Benedictine rule, the nunnery was established for an order of Augustinian nuns, though the same Regnald, son of Somerled, was responsible for establishing both monastic foundations, and Regnald's sister Bethoc served as the first prioress of Iona. The nunnery church was called 'the black church', a reference to the black habits worn by the nuns.
Iona Nunnery became a popular place for ladies of noble birth from the entire Argyll region to retire, and many noblewomen were buried here. In the chancel lies a much worn grave slab to Prioress Anna MacLean (d. 1543).
The ruins of the 13th-century church are by far the most substantial building on the site. The church stands on the north side of a cloister and consists of an aisled nave, chancel, and north chapel. The architectural detailing is very attractive, with finely carved arcade capitals.
The buildings on the east and south ranges of the cloister are in a much poorer state of repair. Fragments of carving from the cloister arcade can be seen in St Ronan's Chapel (Teampull RÃ²nain) nearby.
The chapel served as the parish church until the Reformation. Excavations at St Ronan's revealed traces of an 8th-century chapel on the site.
This early chapel would have existed at the same time as the original monastery on Iona founded by St Columba. The chapel now acts as a museum for artefacts discovered during archaeological investigations at the nunnery.
There is a peaceful air about Iona Nunnery. Perhaps too many visitors scurry by on their way to the more famous attractions at the Abbey, leaving the nunnery to slumber on, undisturbed.
Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.
About Iona Nunnery
Address: Baile Mor, Iona, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Attraction Type: Abbey
Location: Just uphill of the landing quay on Iona, reached by regular ferry service from Fionnphort on Mull.
Website: Iona Nunnery
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Historic Time Periods:
Find other attractions tagged with:
13th century (Time Period) - 8th century (Time Period) - Augustinian (Historical Reference) - grave slab (Architecture) - Iona (Place) - Medieval (Time Period) - Reformation (Historical Reference) - St Columba (Person) -
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Maclean's Cross - 0 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Iona Abbey - 0.6 miles (Abbey)
Staffa - 7.6 miles (Countryside)
Inchkenneth Chapel - 11.7 miles (Historic Church)
Colonsay Whale Sculpture - 17 miles (Countryside)
Clach A'Pheanais (Balnahard) Standing Stone - 17.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Cill Chaitriona - 17.3 miles (Historic Church)
St Columba's Well - 17.5 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Iona Nunnery:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Iona Nunnery. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.