Iona Abbey and Scott

Scott visited Iona twice and mused on the life of the monks at the abbey

Iona Abbey is one of Scotland’s most sacred sites. The tiny island of Iona by Mull has been a vibrant centre of Christian worship ever since St Columba arrived in AD 563.

Scott visited Iona twice - once in 1810 and again, sailing round Scotland in 1814.

Walking among the remnants of the monks' art and creativity, Scott mused on how quietly the monks lived, and how forgotten they are in Scotland's stories.

Listen to 'Dark and Silent Stream'

Walter Scott’s reflected on the quiet life of monks when he visited Iona in 1814.

Read 'Dark and Silent Stream'

It occurred to me in Iona (as it has on many similar occasions) that the traditional recollections concerning the monks are remarkably faint, contrasted with the beautiful and interesting monuments of architecture which they have left behind them.

In Scotland, particularly, the people have frequently traditions wonderfully vivid of the persons and achievements of ancient warriors, whose towers have long ago been levelled with the soil. But of the monks…they can tell nothing, except that such a race existed and inhabited the stately ruins of these monasteries.

The quiet, slow and uniform life of these recluse beings glided on, it may be, like a dark and silent stream, fed from unknown resources and vanishing from the eye’.

Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years

In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.

'Dark and Silent Stream' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.