Secrets of Scotland’s “second Iona” to be unearthed

Archaeologists are to return to Lismore to work on a major seat of religious power with experts believing the tiny island was as historically important as the isle of Iona.

The island, in Loch Linnhe, Argyll, was a centre of ritual and power for more than 1,000 years but few records of its important role survives.

The parish church at Lismore is formed of the choir of the original cathedral. The church is known as the Cathedral of St Moluag although today its congregation is Church of Scotland.

The island was home to a medieval cathedral, home of the Bishops of Argyll, which was built by Clan MacDougall in the 12th Century.  It was also important centre for early Christianity with St Moluag settling on the island, a sacred place of the Picts, in the 6th Century.

He founded a large religious community on Lismore and created 100 monasteries across Scotland as part of the first wave of Christian evangelists.

While a contemporary of St Columba, widely regarded as the man who spread Christianity across Scotland from his abbey on Iona, the importance of St Moluag remains relatively unknown, said Dr Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology, who is leading the dig later this month.

St Moluag is said to have staked his claim to Lismore by cutting off his finger and throwing it onto the island as he raced St Columba to the shore in a boat.

• Full story at The Scotsman.