Tourists are “vandalising” the ancient landscape on Iona by making Pagan labyrinths out of stones, it was warned.

The sacred Inner Hebrides island is a magnet for Christian and Pagan tourists interested in the origins of Christianity in Scotland dating back to 563AD.

Mysterious labyrinth patterns measuring 10m across have appeared in recent years, which are regularly dismantled by islanders who graze livestock there.

Former islander Iain Cameron, 50, who works for a malt whisky company, visited earlier this week and was horrified after seeing one large stone formation and the beginnings of another one.

Iain, who lives near Stirling, said the age-old concept of ‘leave no trace’ appears to have gone, and visitors are now determined to leave their stamp on the landscape.

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The majority of Iona is owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) but Iain said he doubted signs would deter Instagram-obsessed tourists.

Iain said: “The labyrinths are semi-permanent. They have been there for a number of years, there are periodic attempts to clear them but they tend to come back.

“Locals told me they are tired of clearing piles of stones, it has become almost part of the landscape.

“It’s a form of vandalism.

“People seem to be unable to go and absorb their surroundings without leaving a fingerprint that they were there.

“It’s like the Fairy Pools on Skye, the locals go and routinely dismantle piles of stones.

“It’s a trend that seems to be increasing.

“NTS don’t own all of Iona but I think it would be futile if they put up signs.

“If the locals didn’t dismantle them the whole bay would be full of manmade structures.

“That area is where cattle and sheep graze, it’s impacting the landscape and the livestock.

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“We should be trying to make ‘leave no trace’ popular again in the Instagram age.

“Iona attracts people searching for spiritual nourishment.

“The labyrinth is a Pagan symbol.

“When people go down there they are completing some form of pilgrimage.

“St Columba’s Bay is the end of the pilgrimage, I think that’s why the labyrinth keeps coming back again.”

Regarded as one of the cradles of Scottish Christianity, St Columba first arrived on the island of Iona in 563 with 13 followers.

Columba's community established the foundations of what would eventually become Iona Abbey, and the island a burial place for many early Scottish kings, including Macbeth. 

The Abbey remains a place of prayer, pilgrimage and worship attracting over 130,000 visitors annually.

Iona has in the region of 170 permanent residents and the island's custodians, the National Trust for Scotland, encourage visitors to 'love this place, leave no trace.'