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The Holy Island of Lindisfarne: what makes Lindisfarne so important?

Posted by Luci Ackers on 21 June 2016
Related property: Lucker Hall
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne: what makes Lindisfarne so important? The Holy Island of Lindisfarne: what makes Lindisfarne so important?

A tiny corner of Northumberland is home to, arguably, one of the most important sites of British history...

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne was hugely important during the 7th and 8th centuries as a hub of Celtic Christian worship. The priory itself was founded early in the 7th century by Saint Aiden and was to become the destination of the very first Viking raids in 793 CE. Vikings landed from Scandinavia and stormed the priory, killing many of the monks who lived there. As a result many see Lindisfarne's fate as symbolic of the beginning of the Viking Age in Britain.

Holy Island is now a popular visitor's attraction and people travel to view the ruins of the priory and the small castle which is also on the island. What's left of the priory today is the remains of a later structure built when the priory was re-established during Norman times; it dates from the late 11th century and is an incredibly haunting collection of ruins that look out over the coastline and across the water of the bay to the castle sitting out on the headland.

Visiting today

The building work of the small 16th century castle was taking place around the time the priory went out of use and was therefore built with some of the priory's stones on the highest point of the island. The castle's walled garden was designed by famous horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll in the early 20th century and has recently been restored. In 2006 work concluded and the garden was returned to Jekyll's original planting plan. The castle, nearby lime kilns and Jekyll's garden are now all in the care of the National Trust, so you are welcome to explore and discover all the history for yourself.

Opening times can vary depending on the tide and the time of year so do check the National Trust website before setting off!

Nature Reserve status

Lindisfarne is a tidal island, reached by a causeway which is accessible during low tide. It's really important to be aware of tide times when planning a visit, so as not to be stranded! Not only is the island part of the stunning Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but is also a National Nature Reserve. The island is protected for its important wetland habitat and attracts a range of significant species of birds including large numbers of waders and wildfowl. The nature reserve encourages a variety of flora and fauna, both on land and along the coast, its position making it rich in vegetation, grasses and insects which thrive on the sand dunes. The intertidal mudflats and salt marshes are ideal feeding grounds for wintering birds such as geese, wigeons and teal. Grey seals enjoy the rocky shoreline and can often be spotted in the shallow waters.

As long as you time your visit right you'll be able to to enjoy great walks around the island and across the sand along the ancient route called the Pilgrims Way (the final part of the St. Cuthbert's Way long distance trail) – it is marked out by wooden posts and the views are spectacular. You should be able to find the safe crossing times on the Visit Northumberland website.

Lucker Hall is just a half hour's drive away and so makes a great base for exploring this exquisite coastline and its long, interesting history.


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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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