Statutes of Iona

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The Statutes of Iona, passed in Scotland in 1609, required that Highland Scottish clan chiefs send their heirs to Lowland Scotland to be educated in English-speaking Protestant schools. As a result some clans, such as the MacDonalds of Sleat and the MacLeods of Harris, adopted the new religion. Other Clans, including the MacDonalds of Clanranald, Keppoch, Glengarry, and Glencoe, remained resolutely Roman Catholic.


Amongst the provisions of the statutes were:
  • The provision and support of Protestant ministers to Highland Parishes;
  • The establishment of hostelries;
  • The outlawing of beggars;
  • The prohibition of traditional hospitality and strong drink;
  • The education of chiefs’ heirs in Lowland schools where they “may be found able sufficiently to speik, reid and wryte Englische"
  • Limitations on the bearing and use of arms,
  • The outlawing of bards and other bearers of the traditional culture
  • The prohibition on the protection of fugitives

In the view of some writers, this enaction was "the first of a succession of measures taken by the Scottish government specifically aimed at the extirpation of the Gaelic language, the destruction of its traditional culture and the suppression of its bearers"Gaelic - A past and Future Prospect. MacKinnon, Kenneth. The Saltire Society 1991, Edinburgh. P 46

Further reading

  • Cathcart, Alison. "The Statutes of Iona: The Archipelagic Context," Journal of British Studies Jan. 2010,......
  • ...

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