Projects of the Iona Cathedral trustees

1. Iona Library Project

In recent years the trustees have had discussions about the future of Iona Abbey Library and in particular the condition and storage of the library’s collection of books.  In April 2016 the trustees were delighted to learn that an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had been successful which woudl enable them to (1) undertake restoration work on the books in the library, (2) provide extra presses for books and (3) provide facilities which will allow access to the books for research and other purposes. The project was officially launched on Iona on 21 September, 2016.

The trustees are delighted to report the completion of the Iona Abbey Library Project in 2018.  The work was undertaken with the assistance of a grant from HLF and substantial investment by the trustees.  The Library was re-opened by the Duke of Argyll on 20 October 2018 at a successful Completion Event.  The final payment of the HLF grant representing 10% of the grant (£10,000) was received in January 2019 after all HLF reporting requirements had been met.  The physical environment for the Iona Library Collection has been transformed.  There are new book presses with specially crafted, lockable, doors which enable air to circulate and a new system to regulate and monitor moisture and heat levels.  A large number of the books in the collection were restored as part of the project and there is a digital cataloguing of the collection.  Access to the catalogue is through the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Highland Archive.  The refurbished library is now a suitable environment for the future storage of trustees’ collection of restored books.  The Project Manager and Community Worker for the Project undertook an ambitious programme of community education and promotional work which was well received locally and this has forged very positive links between local parties and the trustees for the future.  These community events and the Completion Event were welcome publicity for the work of the Iona Cathedral Trust.

Last year the Iona Community decided to phase their major works at the Abbey and the trustees were grateful to the Community for allowing the library works to be included in Phase 1 of their project.  Phase 2 is in progress and as a result the library is currently closed as it is within the boundaries of the building environment.  The trustees have arranged for regular monitoring of the library and their collection during Phase 2 of the Iona Community Project.



2.Curriculum material for Schools

Tales of Iona

tales of iona

On 26 May 2016 this new curriculum resource for schools was officially launched at Aberdeen University as part of the city’s Mayfest.  Commissioned by the Trust the project  was developed by the University’s  School of Education in collaboration with Abertay University and Hyper Luminal Games. Using game technology the resource which tells the story of Iona and St Columba is intended for the 10 to 14 age group. At their meeting on 5 October 2016 the Trustees were informed that Tales of Iona had been accessed over 17,000 times world-wide.

Tales of Iona - Pedagogical Design Principles and Approach

  • Thinking Skills: Puzzles are a key feature of the game design.  They seek to challenge learners to think at a higher order level.
  • Instructional Knowledge: Some instructional knowledge is provided through the game narrative.
  • Curiosity: A pedagogy of curiosity / pedagogy of the question is central to the design of Tales of Iona – through the design of the narrative, in which ‘nuggets’ spark interest, and puzzles through to the artwork and centrality of the virtual library in the game.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: The ‘library’ reflects the interdisciplinary possibilities that have been considered in the creation of the game.
  • Wiki: Tales of Iona seeks to use wiki pedagogy in order to enable learners to be a part of the ‘making’, construction, process through which their learner voice can be expressed. 
  • International Community of Learning: The wikis provide the opportunity for learners to engage in an international community of learning.


New Book

COLUMBA’S IONA – A new history by Rosalind K Marshall

columbas iona book

May 2013 marked the 1450th anniversary of Columba coming to Iona and there were celebrations to mark the occasion.  The trustees commissioned Dr Rosalind Marshall to write a new history of Iona, the publication of which was released by Sandstone Press in time to mark these celebrations.  The book “Columba’s Iona: A New History” has been well received and has now been published in paperback.

Hardback ISBN; 9781908737144

Paperback ISBN; 9781908737823