Triagh Ban nam Monach is Gaelic for ‘white strand of the monks.’ It’s a beach situated on the island of Iona which is one of the most mystical and enchanting of the islands off the west coast of Scotland.
Getting there is not easy but well worth it. The rocks are flat and smooth making it ideal for just sitting and taking in the fresh air and beautiful scenery and sea life. This pretty and tranquil beach is ideal for those wishing to ‘get away from it all.’ The sand is said to have a unique pearlescent white colour which is the result of the light reflecting from millions of tiny shells mixed into the sand.
Not far from the beach is the nunnery and abbey. The nunnery was built in 1203, by Reginald MacDonald, son of Somerled, who was the founder of a Gaelic-Norse dynasty known as the Lords of the Isles. The ruins of the nunnery are amongst the best examples of medieval history and architecture remaining in Britain today. Very little is known about the nuns that once lived there although carvings on a tomb have been uncovered depicting the type of clothing that would have been worn at the time. It is believed that some to the nuns fled the island during the Reformation, relocating to a cave at Carsaig on Mull, where religious symbols have been discovered carved into the walls of the cave.
Unlike the nunnery, the abbey on Iona has been restored and altered over the centuries. St Columba built a small monastery on the site made from wood, wattle and daub. This was later replaced by a stone structure. In around 1200, the Columban Monastery changed into a Benedictine Abbey. Further changes were made to the building and architecture taking it through to the mid16th century reflecting the changes in the demands of the local congregation and pilgrims and the monastic leadership.
The abbey survived attack by the Vikings but it was not so lucky to escape the Reformation and in 1560 it was left derelict. In 1899 it was transferred into the ownership of the Iona Cathedral Trust by the Duke of Argyll, whereupon they had to raise funds to maintain its upkeep. Due to the Boar War, public funds were too depleted to start to raise money for the restoration work until 1901 and the following year the work began. It took until 1965 to reach full completion. The abbey is now looked after by Historic Scotland.
Iona is renowned for its ‘spiritual’ benefits although that is not to say that any claim is being made that Iona has magical or holistic properties or that it can ‘cure’ people of illness. However, there are many people who visit because it has the ability spiritually uplift them. Many people believe that this is simply because Traigh Ban nam Monach beach is so peaceful that the environment provides the perfect location for meditation.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
A828 (Rd), Barcaldine by Connel
Argyll, Scotland, PA37 1SG
+44 (0)1603 620 060
- Address: Lagandorain, Isle of Iona, Scotland, United Kingdom, PA76 6SW
- GPS: 56.34734444,-6.383466667
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: PA76 6SW
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: No official disabled access or paved paths for wheelchairs
- Visibility from Road: Good
- Image Credits: Header Image: Kevin George