Isle of Iona and Columba’s Journey


We’re on the south end of the Isle of Iona. Somewhere around here in 563 AD, Columba landed with 12 men, 12 monks. Twelve, I don’t know if that’s due to the number of apostles or not. They came here, and the developments leading up to this were that Columba had been a monk in Ireland. He copied a psalter that belonged to Finnian, another monk. When he completed it Finnian wanted to keep the reproduction that Columba had made. Columba felt that since he had done the work, he should keep it. It was one of the earliest examples of a copyright dispute. They went to the head of the abbey who decided in Finnian’s favor. The famous quote was, “The calf belongs to the cow.” In other words, the copy belongs to the owner of the original. Columba did not like that decision. The argument and conflict continued and grew. It led to a pitched battle in which many men died. Columba was in grief and despair over what he had done. He decided to leave Ireland. He vowed, at the very least, match the number of people who died with the number of people, the number of souls, he converted to Christianity. He came here to Iona. The Northern Picts and the Scots were already settled here. It was the beginning of the end for the Picts. This is the remains of an old cobbled road that’s believed to be a thousand years old. The claims are that the Book of Kells was started and perhaps completed here and then brought to Ireland The year 795 saw the first pillaging of Iona Abbey by the Vikings during which several monks were killed. Over the next hundred years or so there were more sackings with more monks killed Over time the Vikings established more permanent settlements here, converted to Christianity, and this became a sacred site and not a site to be pillaged Dun I. The name translates to “Hill of Iona.” It’s the highest point of Iona, but still not terribly high. It’s an overcast, blustery day. I won’t get much of a view up there. But, It’s here so I might as well climb it. It’s very windy and I know it’s hard to hear. Let’s take a look from the top of Dun I. To the east is Mull. It’s overcast and we can’t see it, but to the north is Rum and Skye. Coll and Tyree can barely be made out in that direction. To the west there is nothing but ocean and, eventually, Labrador. To the east is Islay and Ireland… SOUTH, rather. This wind is throwing me off course.

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