Lindisfarne. Let's take this tour of Northumberland across the sea! Yep, we have an island in our county. (I know there are the Farne Islands too, but they are smaller pieces of uninhabited land, mainly home and breeding ground to seabirds/wildlife - there will be a revisit/ in depth post in the future.)
Where was I...haha. Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a tidal island meaning it gets cut off from the mainland twice a day depending on the tide times!
Not only is it a beautiful place, home to 180 people* and rife with particular birds but it has a pretty awesome history dating back to the 9th Century.
To put that into context, we are currently in the 21st century and a century is 100 years. I don't mean that to sound patronizing as if you didn't already know, I just had to say it to try and emphasize how crazy it is haha.
*as of 2011
These photos were taken in June and it was super busy with holiday makers. With the religious and historical background of the Island, it is popular with tourists but now that it has been featured on the bloomin' epic show that is 'Robson Green's Tales from Northumberland' it seems to of had even more of a visitor boost.
Despite the crowds, we were lucky to be blessed with wonderful weather which made for some lovely photo taking and even a play in the sea for Baker below the Castle.
Lindisfarne Castle was built in 1550, using some of the stones from the Priory after it became out of use. At the time it was pretty small to be called a Castle and due to being located 'in' Berwick Upon Tweed as well as prominently out in the North Sea, it was a prime target during Scot/English rivalries and Viking attacks. Therefore during 1570-1572 the fort on Beblowe Crag was strengthened, which is what you can see the castle as today.
There is a very rich history of this little Castle throughout the years, so if you are interested in reading more you can do so here.
From Lindisfarne Castle, across the water Bamburgh Castle is visible and if you turn to the right and look back towards the village you can see the remains of the beautiful Priory.
Across on the other side of the island, which isn't far with it being so small, you come to Lindisfarne Priory and the statue of St Aidan, the Irish Monk that founded this monastery in 634.
Can you see the castle in the distance in the photo above?
The story of the Priory is another long one. Obviously! Seeing as it is well over 1300 years old...
So instead of typing for another 3 hours, I found a brilliant timeline that is a great way to quickly see the history in one go, on the English Heritage website , that I'll include a few points from below. Make sure to click here and see the full thing though!
Oswald, King of Northumbria, summons Irish monk Aidan from Iona to be bishop of his kingdom. Oswald grants Lindisfarne to Aidan for his monastery.
A monk named Cuthbert joins. He is eventually made Prior, but when his reforms prove unpopular, he retires to a small island nearby as a hermit.
King Ecgfrith makes Cuthbert a bishop. He gains a great reputation as a pastor, seer and healer.
Cult of St Cuthbert
Cuthbert dies and is buried in a stone coffin. After monks later find his body undecayed, his remains are raised to a ground-level coffin-shrine.
Miracles are reported at St Cuthbert's shrine. Lindisfarne becomes the major Northumbrian pilgrimage centre. The monastery grows in power and wealth.
Fun fact - My first school was called St Cuthberts RC First School and like most other schools around Northumberland, Lindisfarne Priory was one of my first school trips as a child.
This visit we were slightly disappointed to see that you now must pay to see the ruins, so inside the church and the Priory will have to wait until another post. However I still managed to get one shot of the outside as you can see below.
All of this and I haven't even touched on the famous Lindisfarne mead, nor the wildlife?! But I have waffled on long enough I think, though you are lucky that this isn't way longer! I had researched and typed up so much more about the history of this beautiful little village but decided to cut it out and stick with the basics.
Have you ever visited Holy Island? If not would it be on your agenda if you were in Northumberland or does the religious aspect not appeal to you? I must say, as someone who is not religious, I still fully appreciate and love this place. It really is a special feeling to know how long the stones have stood there and think of the people whose footsteps you are tracing.
Expect a part two at some point...