Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lindisfarne Island, UK

Holy Island, known by the Celtic name Lindisfarne, is accessible by land only during low tide. The island was given to the monk St. Aidan in 653 to establish a base from which the Irish monks could evangelize the area north of the Humber River, now known as Northumbria. The monastery thrived for two hundred years. Then the Viking raids started. The monks abandoned the island in 875. By the 11th century things had settled down and the monks returned, building a priory whose ruins still stand today. After the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII, some of the stones from the priory were used to build Lindisfarne Castle on a promontory on the other end of the island. The castle became a private home in 1903 and is still open for visits.

We drove out across the causeway during low tide. The path is fairly clear, though the route that pilgrims took was about 200 yards south of the modern road. The road also has some shelters built on stilts in case a driver gets stranded during the crossing.

Causeway toward the island

Causeway toward the mainland

We parked just outside the small town on the island and walked in. The island is still home to about 200 residents, not including the wild life.

Perhaps these horses should not be included in the "wild" life

The island has touristy shops and pubs along with a small museum dedicated to the history of the island. The history covered includes the Vikings.

Viking recreation

Tafl, checkers for the Vikings

The history also includes the Lindisfarne gospels, illuminated manuscripts that the monks took with them when they fled in 875. The originals are on display in London, but the museum has copies as well as some interactive computer exhibits that explain the paints used and the creation of the paper from calf skin. J loved to use the computer!

Some of the illuminations from the Lindisfarne Gospels

Copy of the cross found in Cuthbert's tomb

The island also has a memorial to fallen soldiers from the World Wars as well as a memorial to those who provide sea rescues.

Memorial on the island

We didn't get to visit the castle but we did make it to the priory. More on that in our next post!

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