||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (December 2010)|
Lindisfarne shown within Northumberland
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Holy Island|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||BERWICK UPON TWEED|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
The isle of Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the northeast coast of England. It is also known amongst some as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland. Both the Parker Chronicle and Peterborough Chronicle annals of AD 793 record the Old English name, Lindisfarena, which means "[island of the] travellers from Lindsey", indicating the island was settled from the Kingdom of Lindsey, or possibly that its inhabitants travelled there.
Geography and Population
The island measures 2¼ miles from east to west and 1½ miles from north to south, and comprises approximately 1,000 acres (4.04 km2.) at high tide. The island is located about 2 miles from the mainland of England. The isle of Lindisfarne is located along the northeast coast of England, close to the border with Scotland. It is accessible, most times, at low-tide by crossing sand and mud flats which are covered with water at high tides. These sand and mud flats carry an ancient pilgrim’s path, and in more recent times, a modern causeway. Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, which protects the island’s sand dunes and the adjacent intertidal habitats. In 2001, the island had a population of 162.
Community Trust Fund / Holy Island Partnership
In response to the perceived lack of affordable housing on the isle of Lindisfarne, a group of islanders established a charitable foundation known as the 'Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust' in 1996. They built a visitor centre on the island using the profits from sales. In addition, eleven community houses which are rented out to community members who want to continue to stay on the island were built. The trust is also responsible for management of the inner harbour. The Holy Island Partnership was formed in 2009 by members of the community as well as organisations and groups operating on the island.
Warning signs urge visitors walking to the island to keep to the marked path, check tide times and weather carefully, and to seek local advice if in doubt. For drivers, tide tables are 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 the period of closure may be extended during stormy weather.
Despite these warnings, about one vehicle each month is stranded on the causeway, requiring rescue by either Seahouses Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat or RAF helicopter. A sea rescue costs approximately £1,900, while an air rescue costs more than £4,000. Locals have opposed a causeway barrier primarily on convenience grounds.
Tourism has grown steadily throughout the twentieth century, and the isle of Lindisfarne is now a popular destination for visitors to the area. Those tourists staying on the island while it is cut off by the tide can experience the island in a much quieter state, as most day trippers leave before the tide rises. At low tide it is possible to walk across the sands following an ancient route known as Pilgrims' Way. This route is marked with posts and has refuge boxes for stranded walkers, just as the road has a refuge box for those who have left their crossing too late. The isle of Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve which attracts bird-watchers to the tidal island.
The island of Lindisfarne appears under the Old Welsh name Medcaut in the ninth-century Historia Brittonum. Following up on a suggestion by Richard Coates, Andrew Breeze proposes that the name ultimately derives from Latin Medicata (Insula) "Healing (Island)", owing perhaps to the island's reputation for medicinal herbs. The Historia Brittonum 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.
The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded by Irish monk Saint Aidan, who had been sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald ca. AD 635. It became the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England and also sent a successful mission to Mercia. Monks from the Irish 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 Lindisfarne. He was buried here, his remains later translated to Durham Cathedral (along with the relics of Saint Eadfrith of Lindisfarne). Eadberht of Lindisfarne, the next bishop (and Saint) was buried in the place from which Cuthbert's body was exhumed earlier the same year when the priory was abandoned in the late ninth century.
At some point in the early 700s the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, 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 (Old English) 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 called Billfrith.
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 D and E versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record:
Her wæron reðe forebecna cumene ofer Norðhymbra land, ⁊ þæt folc earmlic bregdon, þæt wæron ormete þodenas ⁊ ligrescas, ⁊ fyrenne dracan wæron gesewene on þam lifte fleogende. Þam tacnum sona fyligde mycel hunger, ⁊ litel æfter þam, þæs ilcan geares on .vi. Idus Ianuarii, earmlice hæþenra manna hergunc adilegode Godes cyrican in Lindisfarnaee þurh hreaflac ⁊ mansliht.
In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January, the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne.
The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is in fact 8 June; Michael Swanton 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."
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.
Viking raids in 875 led to the monks' fleeing the island with St. Cuthbert's bones (which are now buried at the Cathedral in Durham). The 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. The priory was re-established in Norman times in 1093 as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII.
Sir Walter Scott
- For with the flow and ebb, its style
- Varies from continent to isle;
- Dry shod o'er sands, twice every day,
- The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
- Twice every day the waves efface
- Of staves and sandalled feet the trace.
A Dundee firm built lime kilns on Lindisfarne in the 1860s, and lime was burnt on the island until at least the end of the 19th century. Horses carried limestone, along the Holy Island Waggonway, from a quarry on the north side of the island to the lime kilns, where it was burned with coal transported from Dundee, Scotland. Workings on the lime kilns stopped by the start of the 20th century.
The lime kilns on Lindisfarne are among the few being actively preserved in Northumberland.
The island is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Northumberland Coast . The ruined monastery is in the care of English Heritage, which also runs 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. Lutyens' upturned herring buses near the foreshore provided the inspiration for Spanish architect Enric Miralles' Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.
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 National Trust and open to visitors.
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 Revolution when over 100 men were thus employed. Crinoid columnals extracted from the quarried stone and threaded into necklaces or rosaries became known as St Cuthbert's beads.
Holy 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 (Detached Parts) Act 1844.
Lindisfarne was mainly a fishing community for many years, with farming and the production of lime also of some importance.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is well known for mead. In the medieval 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.
The isle of Lindisfarne 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 programme Diary of an Island which started on 19 April 2007 and on a DVD of the same name.
|Location||Lindisfarne, Northumberland, England|
|Year first constructed||1859 and unknown|
|Height||21 m (69 ft) and 8 m (26 ft)|
|Focal height||9 m (30 ft) and 24 m (79 ft)|
|Range||4 nmi (7.4 km) and 5 nmi (9.3 km)|
|Characteristic||Occurring White, Red and Green Every 6 Seconds synchonised with each other|
|ARLHS number||ENG 222 and ENG 314|
Trinity House operates two lighthouses to guide vessels entering Holy Island Harbour, named Guile Point East and Heugh Hill. The former is one of a pair of stone obelisks standing constructed on a sandy spit on the south side of the entrance to the Harbour to act as a day mark. Since the early 1990s, a light has been fixed to it about one-third of the way up. The latter is a metal framework tower with a red triangular day mark.
Not a lighthouse but simply a day mark for maritime navigation, a white brick pyramid, 35 feet high and built in 1810, stands at Emmanuel Head, the north eastern point of Lindisfarne.
In modern culture
- Lindisfarne (particularly the castle) is the setting of the Roman Polanski film Cul-de-Sac (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 sack of Lindisfarne monastery by a fleet of opportunistic Vikings is a pivotal event in Charles Barnitz' historical fantasy/adventure, The Deepest Sea (1995).
- Lindisfarne plays a key role in Conqueror (2007), the second book of the Time's Tapestry series by Stephen Baxter.
- The monastery and monks of Lindisfarne are an important part of British author/broadcastor Melvyn Bragg's epic, historically based novel Credo (1996).
- A two-part story in DC Comics' Vertigo series Northlanders, for instance, concerns the destruction on the monastery.
- Lindisfarne is referred to as The Holy Isle in Nancy Farmer's book The Sea of Trolls (2004), which also references the Norse invasion of Lindisfarne.
- Lindesfarne is part of a quest given to Geirolf Ericsson, by his father, in the book The Last Viking (2011) by Sandra Hill.
- Department 19 (2011), a fiction book by Will Hill, concludes on Lindisfarne.
- The novel Dragon Under the Hill (1972), by former newsreader Gordon Honeycombe, is set on Holy Island.
- A thinly disguised version of Lindisfarne is the setting for the Lyndesfarne Bridge quartet of modern fantasy novels by Trevor Hopkins.
- The Quiet Isle, a location in the fictional series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin, has many traits resembling Lindisfarne, including tidal based access and a monastic community.
- Lindisfarne and Holy Island were used in J.P. Moore's novel Toothless (2010) as a staging area by the Knights Templar for an attack against the Black Yew.
- Lindisfarne is known as Holy Island and The New Beginning in Brother in the Land (1984) by Robert Swindells.
- Wells Tower's short story, "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" (2009), is centered around a Viking raid on Lindisfarne.
- Lindisfarne is where the main character of Harry goes to on pilgrimage in the book The Kingdom by the Sea (1990) by Robert Westall. St. Cuthbert, Lindisfarne, and the Viking raid are also focal points of Westall's The Wind Eye.
Aspects of the history and legends concerning Lindisfarne and the monastery have occasionally found their way into the lyrics and concepts of bands, musicians and composers.
- An example is the 40-part choral motet Love You Big as the Sky by British composer Peter McGarr (commissioned for the Tallis Festival 2007). Subtitled "a Lindisfarne Love Song", it includes poems about Lindisfarne and the detailed geography of the area, including ship wrecks and lighthouses.
- The British folk/rock band Lindisfarne (1969–2003), was named after the island, while a Celtic Christian progressive rock band named after another island, Iona, has a song devoted to Lindisfarne on its album Journey into the Morn (1995).
- The carriage of the remains of St Cuthbert from Lindisfarne to Durham is the subject of "The Road from Lindisfarne", the third movement of the Durham Concerto (2007) by Jon Lord. A theme which has been especially popular with metal bands of different genres and styles is the Viking invasion of AD 793. These range from heavy metal or power metal bands like Stormwarrior and Rebellion to more extreme bands such as Enslaved, Ancient Rites and Behemoth.
- Singer-songwriter James Blake included a two-part suite about Lindisfarne on his self-titled debut album (2011).
- English folk musician Matt Seattle wrote a tune in 1990 entitled "Lindisfarne" The following is copied from his publishing website, dragonflymusic.co.uk
Composed in 1990 before I took up the pipes, Lindisfarne is my most recorded and requested tune. It is an air, not a waltz, and I find it wants to be played more slowly now than on the recordings. It appears elsewhere on the www, mostly in unauthorised and incorrect versions.
- Freddie Frobisher, the flatulent hermit of Lindisfarne, is featured in Blackadder the second, episode Beer.
- Lindisfarne appears in the second episode of Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure, a 2009 UK TV programme. Robson Green manages to swim from the mainland to Lindisfarne Castle.
- In season 1, episode 2 of Vikings ("Wrath of the Northmen"), the semi-legendary Ragnar Lodbrok organizes and leads the 793 attack on the priory by a small band of Vikings who head west, arrive on the shores of Lindisfarne, and shortly thereafter conduct the raid.
In other uses
- In 1972, poet William Irwin Thompson named his Lindisfarne Association after the monastery on the island.
- Dennis Freeborn, From Old English to Standard English: A Course Book in Language Variation across Time (second edition), p.39
- A. D. Mills, Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (2nd edition), OUP, 1997, p.221
- Ekwall, E., Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (4th edition), OUP, 1960, pp.298–9. An alternative view is that the name is Celtic in origin, with the element Lindis- meaning "stream or pool", and the element -farne meaning "land" (see www.englandsnortheast.co.uk, Place-Name Meanings K to O. Retrieved 21 February 2010), but cf. "Medcaut" below.
- Census 2001
- "Holy Island tourists 'driving into North Sea'". BBC News. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- Costello, Paul (23 July 2009). "Tidal tourists mystify islanders". BBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
- Breeze, "Medcaut." p. 187-8.
- Graham-Campbell, James; David M. Wilson (2001). "Salt-water bandits" (Google Books). The Viking World. London: Frances Lincoln Ltd. pp. 10 and 22. ISBN 0-7112-1800-5. Retrieved 1 December 2008 edition=3. "Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, is a small tidal island off the coast of Northumbria where a monastery had been established in 634. Its shelving beaches provided a supposedly perfect landing for the shallow-draft ships of the Viking raiders who fell upon its unsuspecting and virtually unprotected monks in the summer of 793. This bloody assault on a "place more venerable than all in Britain" was one of the first positively recorded Viking raids on the West. Lindisfarne was supposedly a good place to attack because people in the dark ages would send their valuables to Lindisfarne, similar to a bank, for safekeeping. Page 21. Viking longships, with their shallow drafts and good manuverability under both sail and oar, allowed their crews to strike deep inland up Europe's major rivers. Page 22. The world of the Vikings consisted of a loose grouping of the Scandinavian homelands and new overseas colonies, linked by sea routes that reached across the Baltic and the North Sea, spanning even the Atlantic. Page 10."
- Swanton, Michael. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, p. 57, n. 15.
- Killeen, Richard. A Brief History of Ireland, Running Press, 2012, p. 30.
- Holy Island Lime Kilns (Plaque outside Lime Kilns). The National Trust.
- "Scots Parliament architect dies". BBC News. 3 July 2000.
- "Lindisfarne Castle – National Trust". Retrieved 15 July 2008.
- "Guile Point East Lighthouse". Trinity House.
- "Heugh Hill Lighthouse". Trinity House.
- Charles Barnitz (September 1, 1995). The Deepest Sea (in English). Roc. ISBN 0451455045.
- Reviewed by Annis. "The Deepest Sea by Charles Barnitz". HistoricalNovels.info. Retrieved April 2013.
- Sandra Hill (July 26, 2011). The Last Viking (in English) (Reissue edition ed.). Avon. ISBN 978-0062019059.
- Will Hill (March 31, 2011). Department 19 (in English). Razorbill. ISBN 1595144064.
- Toothless (in English) (1st edition ed.). Dragon Moon Press. October 19, 2010. ISBN 9781897492185.
- The German heavy metal band Stormwarrior wrote a song called "Lindisfarnel" about the Viking raid in AD 793. The Norwegian metal band Enslaved also released a song titled after the invasion, called "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)". The Belgian folk/power/black metal band Ancient Rites has a song "Lindisfarne (Anno 793)" on their 2001 album Dim Carcosa. The Polish black/death metal band Behemoth has a song "From Horned Lands To Lindisfarne" on its 1994 "... From The Pagan Vastlands" demo. The German power metal band Rebellion has a song on their 2005 album Sagas of Iceland — The History of the Vikings Volume 1 called "In Memorandum Lindisfarnae".
- "Cold Feet on IMDB". Retrieved 29 November 2008.
- Breeze, Andrew (2008). "Medcaut, the Brittonic name of Lindisfarne". Northern History 42: 187–8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Lindisfarne|
- Lindisfarne Guide on VisitNorthumberland.com – Includes Video of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
- Holy Island Safe Crossing Times
- Lindisfarne Priory Opening Times
- Images of Lindisfarne Castle
- Lindisfarne Castle
- 'Hover & Hear' pronunciations in the traditional dialect of Lindisfarne, and compare side by side with other accents from the UK and around the World.
- An illustrated walk on Lindisfarne
- Detailed historical record for Lindisfarne Priory
- Teachers' resource pack: English Heritage
- A Report on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
- Lindisfarne Mead