spelling, Lindesfarne) (Lindisfarne) is a tidal island off the north-east coast of
England also known as Holy Island, the
name of the civil parish.
name Lindisfarne derives from Farne
meaning "retreat" and
, a small tidal river adjacent to the island. It has
a population of 162.
The island of Lindisfarne appears under the Old Welsh
. Following up on a suggestion by Richard Coates,
Andrew Breeze proposes that the name ultimately derives from Latin
"Healing (Island)", owing perhaps to the
island's reputation for medicinal herbs. The Historia
recounts how in the sixth century, Urien
, prince of Rheged, besieged the Angles
led by Theodoric
at the island for three days
and three nights.
monastery of Lindisfarne was
founded by Irish born
Saint Aidan, who had been sent
from Iona off the west
coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald around AD 635.
the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England and
also sent a successful mission to Mercia.
Monks from the community of Iona settled on the island.
Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later
Abbot of the monastery, and his miracles and life are recorded
by the Venerable Bede.
Cuthbert later became Bishop of
Aidan of Lindisfarne, from the
At some point in the early 700s the famous illuminated manuscript
known as the Lindisfarne
, an illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels
of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was made
probably at Lindisfarne and the artist was possibly Eadfrith
, who later became Bishop of
Lindisfarne. Sometime in the second half of the tenth century a
monk named Aldred added an Anglo-Saxon
) gloss to the Latin text,
producing the earliest surviving Old English
copies of the Gospels
. The Gospels were illustrated in an insular
style containing a fusion of Celtic,
Germanic and Roman elements; they were probably originally covered
with a fine metal case made by a hermit
In 793, a Viking
raid on Lindisfarne caused
much consternation throughout the Christian west, and is now often
taken as the beginning of the Viking Age
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria.
There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and
fiery dragons were seen flying in the
These signs were followed by great famine, and on
January 8th the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at
The more popularly accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne
is June 8; Michael Swanton, editor of Routledge's edition of the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, writes "vi id Ianr
, presumably [is]
an error for vi id Iun
(June 8) which is the date given by
the Annals of Lindisfarne
(p. 505), when better sailing
weather would favour coastal raids."
The ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, by
Thomas Girtin, 1798
, an English monk of that period,
Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we
have now suffered from a pagan race.
.The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the
altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God,
like dung in the streets.
raids in 875 led to the monks fleeing the island with St Cuthbert's
bones (The bones of St Cuthbert are now buried at the Cathedral in Durham).
bishopric was transferred to Durham in AD 1000. The Lindisfarne
Gospels now reside in the British Library in London, somewhat to
the annoyance of some Northumbrians.
was re-established in Norman
times in 1093 as a Benedictine
house and continued until its
under Henry VIII
Sir Walter Scott
A causeway connects the island to the mainland of
Northumberland and is flooded twice a day by tides – something
well described by Sir Walter
is within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
monastery is now a ruin in the care of English Heritage
, who also run a
museum/visitor centre nearby. The neighbouring parish church (see
below) is still in use.
Lindisfarne also has the small Lindisfarne
Castle, based on a Tudor fort, which was refurbished in
the Arts and Crafts style
by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the editor of
Country Life, Edward Hudson.
Lutyens also designed
the island's Celtic-cross war-memorial on the Heugh.One of the most
celebrated gardeners of modern times, Gertrude Jekyll
(1843-1932), laid out a tiny
garden just north of the castle in 1911.The castle
, garden and nearby limekilns
are in the care of the
and open to visitors.
, Thomas Girtin
and Charles Rennie Mackintosh
painted on Holy Island.
Lindisfarne had a large lime burning
industry and the kilns are among the most complex in
Northumberland. There are still some traces of the jetties by which
the coal was imported and the lime exported close by at the foot of
the crags. Lime was quarried on the Island and the remains of the
wagon way between the quarries and the kilns makes for a pleasant
and easy walk. This quarrying flourished in the mid-19th century
during the Industrial
when over 100 men were thus employed. Crinoid columnals
from the quarried stone and threaded into necklaces or rosaries
became known as St Cuthbert's
Island was considered part of the Islandshire unit along with several mainland parishes.
This came under the jurisdiction of the County Palatine of Durham
until the Counties Act 1788
Lindisfarne was mainly a fishing community for many years, with
farming and the production of lime also of some importance.
Recently Lindisfarne has become the centre for the revival of
in the North
of England; a former minister of the church
there, David Adam
, is a well-known author of
prayers. Following from this, Lindisfarne has become a popular
centre, as well as
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is well known for mead
. In the mediæval days when monks inhabited the
island, it was thought that if the soul was in God's keeping, the
body must be fortified with Lindisfarne Mead. The monks have long
vanished, and the mead's recipe remains a secret of the family
which still produces it. Lindisfarne mead is produced at St Aidan's
Winery, and sold throughout the UK and elsewhere.
Holy Island was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders
as one of the
wonders of the North. The Lindisfarne Gospels
have also featured
on television among the top few Treasures of Britain. It also
features in an ITV Tyne Tees
Diary of an Island
which started on 19 April 2007 and on a
DVD of the same name.
Lindisfarne seen from the
Large parts of the island, and all of the adjacent intertidal area,
are protected as Lindisfarne National Nature
to help safeguard the internationally important
populations. Species for which
the reserve is important include Pale-bellied Brent Goose
, Bar-tailed Godwit
and many others.
situation on the east coast also makes it a good place for
observing migrating birds arriving
from the east, including large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare, and
also scarcer Siberian birds including regular annual Yellow-browed Warblers.
species such as Radde's Warbler
and Red-flanked Bluetail
have all occurred
on Holy Island. Altogether, a total of almost 300 species have been
recorded on the Island and adjacent reserve. With the large number
and variety of birds present, the area is very popular with
, particularly in the Autumn and
Winter.Grey seals are frequent visitors to the rocky bays at high
Tourists crossing Pilgrim's Way
Tourism grew steadily throughout the twentieth century, and it is
now a popular place with visitors — sometimes a little too popular,
as space and facilities are limited. By staying on the island while
the tide cuts it off (time permitting) the non-resident visitor can
experience the island in a much quieter mood, as most day visitors
leave when the tide is rising again. It is possible, weather and
tide permitting, to walk at low tide across the sands following the
older crossing line known as the Pilgrims' Way and marked with
posts: it also has refuge boxes for the careless walker, in the
same way as the road has a refuge box for those who have left their
crossing too late.A popular delicacy on the island is crab sandwiches
, which are sold
to tourists at many shops and cafés.
Visitors wishing to walk between the mainland and the island are
urged to keep to the marked path, check tide times and weather
carefully, and seek local advice if in doubt. Visitors driving
should pay close attention to the timetables prominently displayed
at both ends of the causeway and where the Holy Island road leaves
the A1 Great
North Road at Beal.
The causeway is generally open from
about 3 hours after high tide until 2 hours before the next high
tide, but there is no substitute for checking the timetables for a
specific date, and the period of closure may extend during stormy
Trivia in modern culture
In 1972, poet William Irwin
named his Lindisfarne Association
monastery on the island.
is a network of people, communities, churches and
groups committed to the idea of "New
Lindisfarne (particularly the castle) is the setting of the
(1966) with Donald Pleasence
and Lionel Stander
, shot entirely on location
there. The island is semi-fictionalised into "Lindisfarne Island"
and the castle is "Rob Roy". There is no village. The tide rises
round a car which is stuck on the causeway; also featured are the
characteristic sheds made from local fishing boats, inverted and
cut in half. These may still be seen on the island.
The final episode of second series of the TV series Cold Feet
was filmed in Lindisfarne Castle.
- Lindisfarne is referred to as The Holy Isle in Nancy Farmer's book "The Sea of Trolls," which
also references the Norse invasion of Lindisfarne.
- Lindisfarne plays a role in The Consciousness Plague, a 2002
science fiction/mystery novel by Paul
- Lindisfarne is where the main character of Harry goes to on
pilgrimage in the book "Kingdom by the Sea" by Robert Westall.
- It is also mentioned in passing in "Spirits White As
Lightning", part of the Bedlam's Bard fantasy series by Mercedes
Lackey & Rosemary Edghill.
- It also plays an important role in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories.
- Lindisfarne plays a key role in "Conqueror", the second book of
the Time's Tapestry series by Stephen
- A thinly-disguised version of Lindisfarne is the setting for
the Lyndesfarne Bridge quartet of modern fantasy novels by
- The novel "Wolfskin" by Juliet Marillier takes place partially in a
slightly altered version of ancient Lindisfarne.
- Lindisfarne is known as Holy Island and The New Beginning in
"Brother in the Land" by Robert
- A novel called "Dragon Under the Hill" was first published by
Hutchinson & Co. in 1972 by the ex newsreader Gordon
Honeycombe. The ISBN is 0 09 113030 1.
- The monastery and monks of Lindisfarne are an important part of
British author/broadcastor Melvyn
Bragg's epic, historically-based novel "Credo" published in
- Census 2001
- Breeze, "Medcaut." p. 187-8.
- Breeze, "Medcaut." p. 187-8.
- Swanton, Michael. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, p. 57, n.
- Breeze, Andrew. "Medcaut, the Brittonic name of
Lindisfarne." Northern History 42 (2008): 187-8.