Inchcolm Abbey-The “Iona of the East”

Hi, friends. Did everyone had a nice weekend? I spent time planting lots of pretty pink flowers, eating delicious food, visiting with family and friends, and writing a word or two. The long Memorial Day holiday is almost over, and tomorrow it’s back to business as usual.

In today’s blog post, I’d like to point out a fascinating site located on the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth (the estuary off Scotland’s east coast that flows into the North Sea). Mr. C and I first spotted the structure from the grounds of Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh.

Inchcolm Abbey in Scotland.
As viewed from Lauriston Castle.

We had no idea what we were looking at that day and assumed it was a castle ruin. It wasn’t until we went sailing on the Firth (more on that in a future post) that we got a better view. It turned out to be Inchcolm Abbey, the most well-preserved group of monastic buildings in Scotland.

Inchcolm Abbey which sits on the Firth of Forth.

To get to the island of Inchcolm and the medieval abbey, one must take a ferry, which departs from South Queensferry, Scotland (roughly ten miles from Edinburgh’s city center). To see the abbey on foot and to touch those ancient stone walls for myself is an adventure I would very much like to have one day.

In my curiosity, I did a little research about Inchcolm Abbey.  Here are ten interesting things I learned:

  1.  Inchcolm Abbey is the most well-preserved group of monastic buildings in Scotland.
  2. In 1123, Alexander I took shelter on the island of Inchcolm during a fierce storm.  He was so thankful that his life had been spared, he vowed to build a monastery as an expression of his gratitude.  Sadly, he died a year later.  In his absence, his brother David I asked Augustinian canons (priests) to establish the priory instead.
  3. Inchcolm was raised to full abbey status in 1235.
  4. Inchcolm is known as the “Iona of the East” (as opposed to Iona Abbey on the small island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides).
  5. Though the abbey enjoyed years of peace in its isolation, it was also often a target of the English military during Scotland’s wars with England from the 1300s to the mid-1500s.
  6. Visitors of the abbey can see a preserved 13th century medieval fresco that depicts a funeral procession.
  7. A hermit is said to have inhabited the island prior to the foundation of the monastery.
  8. The oldest relic on the island is a 10th-century tombstone.  (Wow, that’s the 900s, people!)
  9. Inchcholm was fortified during the first and second World Wars to defend Edinburgh.
  10. The island is known for its population of seals.  Aww.  I’d like to see that.

So there you have it, friends.  Another fantastic Scottish find.  Aren’t they all, though?

Enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll see you again next time.



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