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Holy island of Lindisfarne

Updated on May 4, 2012
St Cuthbert of Holy Island
St Cuthbert of Holy Island

"The Holiest place in England"

Lindisfarne has time and time been hailed as "the holiest place in England". As well as being my childhood home for a time, the first mention we have of Holy Island in literature is in the 570s at the death of Urien-ap-Rheged, a Christian king who was trying to drive the pagan-English out.

Situated just off the Nortumberland coast, it was the Benedictine monks, coming from Durham in the twelfth century who called the island "Holy Island', which was in memory of all the saints who had gave their lives here, especially those who died at the hands of the vikings.

Holy Island has a feel about it that is different and set apart. It is as though it almost invites us to set ourselves apart and experience the vast expanses of the sea and the sky and walk where the saints have walked. It invites us to be pilgrims.

Posts being carried
Posts being carried


Pilgrims have been visiting the island for over 1300 years seeking healing and peace. However, because of its position too many lives were being lost to the tide and so posts were mounted in 1860 as a guide for visitors and islanders. In 1954 a roadway through started to be constructed and this was completed in 1954.


The history of Holy Island starts with the mission of Aidan in 634. Being a Christian he wished his people to accept the new religion and forsake their pagons .Aidan evangelised the whole of Northumbria and was the first of sixteen bishops of Lindisfarne. The most famous of these was Cuthbert born about 635 where he entered the monastery the year of Aidans' death in 651. In 685 Cuthbert was asked to become bishop of Lindidfarne but sadly died two years later.His body is buried in a wooden coffin which is still preserved at Durham.

Lindisfarne Gospela
Lindisfarne Gospela

The Lindisfarne Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels are the finest surviving work of art from Holy Island. The book consists of the four Gospels. It is written in two hundred and fifty eight pages of vellum. The Gospel were at Lindisfarne for two hundred years until the island was abandoned in 875.

The Priory

Lindisfarne Priory
Lindisfarne Priory

The Priory

In 1082 the the Bishop of Durham converted the cathedral on the island into a Benedictine monastery. The monks did not found a new independent monastery but a cell tenanted by monks and ruled by priors. The priory remained in this position throughout history.

The priory consists of a church, with a cloister on its south side and surrounded by monastic buildings and an outer court. The church was completed in the 12th century and the monastic buildings in the 13th and 14th centuries. The cloister was intended for study and contemplation.

Parish church
Parish church

The parish church

This church lies immediately west of the priory and was built some time before 1145. The parish registers have many interesting entries which started with the end of the 16th century.

Lindisfarne castle
Lindisfarne castle

The castle

The castle was built using stone from the ruined priory and owes its existence to an Order in Council issued in 1539. Its military purposes over, during the civil war the castle came into the hands of the Parliamentary forces and soon it fell into decay. It was later turned into a coastguard station. The castle now consists of two batteries, the lower and the upper.The entry hall is completely modern and leads to two vaulted chambers known as the Dining Room and the Ship Room. The castle and its contents were given to the National Trust in 1944.

Holy Island

Al;though Holy Island is geographically fairly isolated there has and never will be a lack of visitors as people come from across the globe to walk and pray in the footsteps of the great Saints.My own childhood memories of living on this island with my family are in the main happy ones and I have continued to visit and be charmed by the people and guided by its history.

© 2012 cherriquinn


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    • cherriquinn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      Thankyou so much for reading. Yes we have some very interesting and historic places over here. Maybe one day you will have the opportunity to visit both England and Scotland.

    • Civil War Bob profile image

      Civil War Bob 

      9 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

      Another good hub, CQ...voted up, useful, interesting, and beautiful for the pics and sentiments! If someone invents a transporter like on Star Trek so I don't have to mess around with conventional travel to England, I'd love to spend a year touring England and of two sides of my family...the Sextons from around London and the Murrays of the Highlands.

    • cherriquinn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      kalmiya Thankyou for taking the time to read this hub.I see you are very well travelled. It must be so good to have experienced so many places in the world.There are still so many countries I would like to see. Thankyou.

    • Kalmiya profile image


      9 years ago from North America

      Thanks for your interesting hub and photos. It's great to read on HubPages about these remote intriguing places that we may never see. Very nice.

    • cherriquinn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      Ethel you are very welcome. I hope you get to visit one day.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      A place I have never visited. Yet that is :) thanks for the info

    • cherriquinn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      Trish M,calpol25,Judi Bee I,m thrilled that you have all enjoyed reading this hub. I remember one day revelling in the fact that we were insiders marooned on the island and was very disdainful of all the day trippers! I was only very young though maybe 6 0r 7yrs old. Thankyou again

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      9 years ago from UK

      How fantastic to have lived on Lindisfarne. I did visit the island many years ago, when I was a child. We visited Bamburgh Castle too and had the best fish and chips ever in Seahouses.

      Voted up etc.

    • calpol25 profile image


      9 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi Cherriquinn

      I actually visited this island a few years ago and was awestruck at its beauty and the history, I bet if those walls could talk. x

      You must have really loved living there, I am so envious of you as I always wanted to live on an island too x

      Loved this hub thank you.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      9 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      A very interesting piece.

      Living on the island must have been very special.

      I once watched the sun rise over Lindisfarne. It was a magical experience.


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