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£60,000 upgrade for Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey is to undergo a £60,000 upgrade as Historic Environment Scotland announced details of work to conserve and maintain the iconic site.

A new conservation heating system is to be installed in the Abbey Church, to help protect against increasing levels of rain water penetration that have been documented throughout the site.


The level and intensity of rainfall on Iona has risen significantly over the past five decades. Since the 1960’s average rainfall in the west of Scotland has increased by around 28% and the number of days in which rain is recorded has also increased during this time period. In the decades to come we are likely to see winters become increasingly wetter and summers drier, but with shorter, more intense periods of rainfall.

David Mitchell, Head of Conservation at HES, said: "Iona Abbey has a special place in Scotland’s history, drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Like many of our historic sites across the country, changes in our climate present challenges to how we manage and maintain these priceless assets.

"Historic buildings like the Abbey Church at Iona are particularly susceptible to the accelerated decay that can be caused by increasing rainfall, and the current work we’re undertaking will help respond to these impacts and protect the site for the future."

Iona Abbey is often described as the cradle of Christianity in Scotland. A site of pilgrimage since the 7th century, it remains an important spiritual centre today. The architecture of the Abbey Church itself spans the 13th to 16th centuries, now restored as an active place of worship.

The Abbey Church at Iona will be closed for the duration of these works, which are set to be completed by the end of March 2019. During this period, the usual entry fee to the site will be waived for visitors who can enjoy what else the site has to offer for free including the Michael Chapel, the shrine, the cloisters and St Oran’s Chapel.

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