Iona Nunnery was founded as an Augustinian convent shortly after the Benedictine monastery was founded on the Isle of Iona, around 1200AD. Both religious houses were established by Reginald MacDonald of Islay, and he installed his sister, Bethóc, as the first prioress of the nunnery.
Iona Nunnery had a relatively uneventful history due to its remote location. It survived unharmed until, like the nearby abbey, it fell into abandonment and decay following the Scottish Reformation in 1560AD.
Unlike the abbey, the nunnery was never restored, and today lies in ruin. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best preserved handful of mediaeval nunneries in the British Isles. The remains of the 13th Century church represent the most impressive of the surviving buildings, standing to the north side of the cloister, with some notable detail amongst the stonework.
Easily overlooked by the visitor eager to reach the abbey, the nunnery is still a fine ruin, and represents a quite different experience to the restored church. It's a tranquil spot on a busy pilgrim trail, and well worth finding the time to stop for some quiet contemplation.