Known as MacKinnon's Cross. The upper part of this large free-standing cross has been lost, but all the faces of the surviving shaft are richly decorated. The upper section of the front is covered in intertwined foliage. An inscription below tells us that the cross was carved in 1489 and dedicated to Lachlan MacKinnon and his son John, Abbot of Iona. John’s effigy lies in the choir of the Abbey church.

The lower section of the front has a fine depiction of a West Highland galley or birlinn with a banner flying at the prow and a well-defined rudder at the stern. Stern rudders were a key technological development from the earlier Norse longships from which birlinns evolved.

At the foot of the shaft is a carving of a griffin. Part lion, part eagle, this mythical creature represented courage and strength. It appears as early as the 5th century BC in Persia.


Date Made
1650 x 505 x 130mm
Time Period
Property Information
Iona Abbey
Object Number
Access Status