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Standing Building Recording

Date October 2012

Event ID 992739

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NM 28683 24515 (NM22SE 5.00) The final two phases of the assessment of the abbey’s carved stone collection were completed by October 2012. The stones in phase 3 are stored in the roof space and consist mainly of stones from the abbey’s cloisters – column bases, shafts and capitals, as well as voussoirs. Although these stones are extremely weathered, traces of the original decorative carving can still be seen. It is also possible to see how the column bases and shafts were intended to be fitted together, with mortice and tenon joints visible on column bases and shafts.

The stones included in phase 4 of the collection had been removed from Iona many years earlier, and were stacked outside the Columba Centre in Fionnphort. The stones in this latter group were left over from the 1960–70s’ restoration and replacement work in the cloisters. So the stones in phase 3 would have been removed to allow their replacement with these modern versions in phase 4. Again, some of the stones were column bases, shafts and capitals, but the largest group were voussoirs. There is a deliberate differentiation in these modern versions, whereby the dog-tooth ornament is simplified to create a smoother surface profile.

Another group of stones was left over from restoration work on the night stair, forming a set of coping stones. Some of these had still legible names incised in the ends, eg Black, Thompson, Weatherup, Summers and Collins. Finally, there was one intriguing piece which appears to have been a practice stone for a cloisters capital. This has a very clear low-relief carving of a thistle on a chamfered edge, and is a simplified version of a capital now in the cloisters, which shows a similar thistle on a paired capital.

This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact

Mary Márkus, Archetype


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