Iona: MacLean’s Cross

Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

MacLean’s Cross stands on the road between Port Rònain and the Abbey, not far from the nunnery and adjacent to the parish church. The route was the Sràid nam Marbh, or the ‘Street of the Dead’. The cross was commissioned in the late 15th century by the clan chief of the MacLeans of Duart.

Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

The cross is more than 3 m tall. Pilgrims to the island would have stood facing the cross from the west side on which there is a carved crucifixion. Above the cross is a lily that symbolises the Virgin Mary.

Iona, MacLean’s Cross, east face © David Gill

On the reverse of the cross is a patterned motif, with two animals below the cross head.

Iona, MacLean’s Cross © David Gill

The cross is the oldest monument in State Guardianship on the island. The cross still rests in the original socket slab, but the base is more recent. A Ministry of Works sign was provided to explain the cross.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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