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St John’s Cross is the finest of all the crosses on Iona. It was dedicated to John the Evangelist, a saint highly venerated by the early Church. These fragments are now preserved on display in the Iona Abbey Museum. The cross once stood outside west end of the abbey, where a replica erected in 1970 now stands. Here it would have marked a special place for prayer and pilgrimage. With its distinctive ring to support the arms of the cross, this type of cross is likely to have been developed on Iona in the 700s before being adopted in Ireland. The shaft features a deeply carved snake and boss design found elsewhere in Celtic art. Snakes shown attacking lizard-like creatures on the lower part of the shaft represent Christ triumphing over the Devil.


Date Made
8th century
h 5300mm (h 17' 4 11/16")
Property Information
Iona Abbey
Object Number
Access Status