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

Name of the month: May 2023

According to Mánus Ó Domhnaill’s Life of Colum Cille, when the saint arrived on Iona at Whitsun he encountered druids disguised as bishops who were promptly banished from the island by the saint.

Thomas Clancy writes about the resurfacing of such traditions relating to St Columba and druids in the 17th century in his forthcoming article, ‘Saints, Druids and Sea-Gods: imagining the past in Iona’s Namescape’. One account tells us of a place-name which is only recorded in a manuscript from 1776 (p. 87) as Slochd na m Biast.

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.