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

Name of the month: November 2022

Image credit: Gilbert Márkus

This month’s Name of the Month is Crois Mhàrtainn / St Martin’s Cross, named after St Martin of Tours whose feast day is 11th November.

Devotion to St Martin in the early medieval Iona community is attested by Adomnán in his Life of Columba on several occasions. In VC III.12 we are told that the name of St Martin was included in the regular liturgical prayer. The story of Columba’s head being surrounded by a ‘radiant ball of fire’ in VC III. 17 also has close parallels with the episode described by Gregory of Tours (p. 31) in which a fire ‘burst from the top of the blessed Martin’s head’. It is worth noting that despite this early evidence for devotion to St Martin on Iona, the name of the cross is not necessarily early medieval.

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.