Welcome to the website for Iona’s Namescape: Place-Names and their dynamics in Iona and its environs

Name of the month: September 2022

Image: map from Life of Saint Columba, founder of Hy. Written by Adamnan. Edited by William Reeves

Saint Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona, is commemorated – directly and indirectly – in two related Iona place-names. Port Adhamhnain ‘Port of Adomnán’ and Port a’ Chroisein ‘Port of the little cross’ both refer to the same inlet (Grid Reference: NM286240; Port a’ Chrossain on Reeves’ map). The names appear to be associated with a nearby cross dedicated to the saint, located near the centre of Baile Mòr, but no trace of the cross can now be found. ‘Crois Adomnain’ is included on the 1857 map of Iona drawn for William Reeves (see image). Both Reeves and Alexander Carmichael record versions of these names which capture something more of the contemporary Gaelic pronunciation of the saint’s name than do the somewhat antiquarian spellings: ‘Crois Aodhannan’ (Reeves), ‘Port Aona’ain’ (Carmichael).

View full post and other names of the month

This is a three-year project funded by the AHRC and based in Celtic & Gaelic at the University of Glasgow. The core objective of the project is a survey of the place-names of Iona and the nearby island of Staffa. This will be presented in the form of an interactive web resource in due course on this site (planned to be ready for 2022); and in the form of a volume in the Survey of Scottish Place-Name series.

We will also be researching the early records for the topography of Iona; the names of Iona’s monuments; and the relationship between Iona and Mull. A key part of our research involves trying to understand the dynamism of names and naming in Iona, both over the centuries, and among the different constituent communities who live on and interact with the island in the present.

We are partnered with the two heritage bodies in whose care Iona and Staffa sit: the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

More detail about the project can be found here.

We will be producing regular blogs on our research which you can consult here.

This web resource is under construction and will be constantly updating as the project progresses.