It was Aidan, a monk of Iona, who headed out east to the half-island of Lindisfarne. It was the 7th century and Lindisfarne was a tidal island in the North Sea, now often called Holy Island. Monks from Iona settled there and the ancient pilgrim path across to the ruins is now a causeway. Sir Walter Scott wrote, ‘ Dry shod o’er sands, twice every day/ The pilgrims to the shrine find way.’ Writer and traveller Stephen Graham wrote in 1917, ‘Holy Island has its own weather, its own particular beauty always hanging over it. It is no ordinary place.’
Cuthbert lived at Lindisfarne after Finian built a timber church there (Bede was not impressed thinking it should have built of stone!) A life of Cuthbert written around the end of the 7th century is said to be the oldest extant piece of English historical writing and in the 8th century an illustrated Latin copy of the four gospels was made at Lindisfarne. Often called a ‘Treasury of Britain’ it can be viewed at the British Library. Now Lindisfarne is tended by English Heritage, has a population of 180 and is a busy tourist site. Only at high tide for about five hours is the island cut off from the mainland.
Location: The north-east coast of England close to the Scottish border.
Co-ordinates: 55.66905°N 1.78485°W
Photo credit: Wiki Images CC