Christianized from various sources, including:
Experts on the famous Scottish monastery of Iona have long speculated about whether a rock in the ancient monastery was the site of St Columba’s cell (St Columba was Abbot of Iona from the date of the monastery’s foundation in 563 till his repose in 597). The location of the tiny wooden building was described by St Adamnan (Adam), the seventh-century abbot of Iona and writer of St Columba’s life.
Sixty years ago a team excavated the summit of the outcrop, found the burned remains of a tiny wooden hut and proposed that the building had been St Columba’s cell. Most scholars rejected the idea. However, two archaeologists from the University of Glasgow have now tracked down the scraps of burned timber (excavated in 1957, but long presumed lost) and arranged to have them radiocarbon-dated. The results demonstrate that the hut was not a later structure but did indeed date to somewhere between 540 and 650.
New research suggests that a now long-vanished stone cross that had once stood on the rocky outcrop had been erected there, probably shortly after St Columba had reposed and therefore potentially in commemoration of him. This new evidence, together with Adomnan’s description of the location (and the traditional Gaelic name of the rock outcrop: Tòrr an Aba [Mound of the Abbot]), makes it almost certain that the “Tor” was indeed the site of Columba’s cell, and that the wooden hut, excavated 60 years ago, was the centre of the monastery.
It is also likely that it was the place where he wrote one of the world’s oldest surviving manuscripts of the Age of Saints, the Cathach, a collection of psalms. During much of that period, Iona was of critical importance in spreading the knowledge of God throughout large areas of Western Europe. It was probably at Iona that the famous early illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, was produced; and it was from here that the epicentre of northern English Christianity, the monastery of Lindisfarne, was founded.
The archaeologists have also discovered evidence that Iona’s pilgrimage road was established in the eighth or ninth century AD. It would make it one of the earliest Christian pilgrimage roads in the world. It is now considered that the whole plan of Iona was based on Jerusalem. It is believed that Iona’s version of the Jerusalem pilgrimage road was eventually up to 600 yards long, and, by the ninth century, may have begun at Martyrs’ Bay (the probable location of the martyrdom of Iona monks by the Vikings in 806), and ended at the tomb of St Columba, where the monastery is now located.