News of an interesting project relating to St Columba and the monastery on Iona. This year – the 1450th anniversary of the monastery’s foundation – the museum at Iona Abbey will be unveiling the newly restored St Oran’s Cross.
Standing more than 11 feet tall, this magnificent free-standing cross is one of the finest early medieval monuments in Scotland. It was carved in the 8th century, probably at the request of a king, and would have been a prominent feature in the monastic precinct. In more recent times it has lain in a horizontal position in the Iona Abbey museum, broken into five pieces. Experts from Historic Scotland have put the pieces together and will re-erect the cross as part of a new exhibition of Iona’s carved stones. Visitors will then be able to fully appreciate how impressive this monument must have looked during the monastery’s heyday.
For a good illustration of the carvings, take a look at Ian G Scott’s brilliant drawing.
I’ve written about the history of Iona in my recent book on Saint Columba.
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