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                   Link to the lindisfarne web site            









A pictorial and text based historical page dedicated toThe Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Holy Island and the area that surrounds it is a photographers dream.

It is little wonder that this particular area of the North East of England has been dubbed an area of outstanding natural beauty.



Holy Island is a photographers dream, It is a delight to visit this part of the UK where there is the possibility of a breathtaking view  around every corner.





A brief history of Holy island


Further down this page you will find around a dozen images of The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, taken in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, however to help the visitors,

who visit this web page,

appreciate the photographs even more, I have written a few paragraphs giving some relative details and information concerning the island.



The Holy Island of Lidisfarne has a long and interesting history; this is because it is considered to be the birthplace of Christianity in the north of England.

In the days when England was divided into Kingdoms, the northern Kingdoms of Deria and Bernica joined to make Northumbria which was one

of the largest Kingdoms if not the largest in its day.

The area stretched from as far north as Berwick-Upon-Tweed down as far south as the river Humber. It included the now counties of Yorkshire,

Lancashire, Cumbria and Northumberland. Hence,

 the name of the northern area was later to be known as Northumbria.

The town of Berwick had itself changed from being ruled by the Scots and then back to the English many times over the years

 and to-date the total number of changes from Scotland to England is 13.

At the moment it is under English jurisdiction.

Lindisfarne is a tidal island and is situated off the north-east coast of England and is commonly known as Holy Island which is also its parish name,

the local people almost always refer to it as Holy Island.

 It has a population of around 150 to 160, the island has a primary school with one teacher and as of 2009 it had only one registered pupil.

Once the children of the island reach secondary level they leave the island and stay on the mainland from Monday to Friday and

return to their parents on Holy Island for the weekend.

I have friends who think this is a wonderful idea and are envious of the situation that exists on Holy Island

The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway to the mainland which is flooded twice a day by the North Sea tides.

It was in the year of 634 that the then king of this great kingdom, Oswald, sent for missionaries from the Island of Iona where he was previously in

 exile as a young boy

where he was taught Christianity by the Monks of Iona and eventually became baptised there.

His father, King Edwin, had Scottish connections and sent Oswald to Iona for his own personal safely during the days of conflict with 

Cadwallon the Welsh King.

Cadwallon desperately desired the Kingdom of Northumbria because it would give him a massive area to add to his Kingdom of Wales.


After his fathers death due to a battle with Cadwallan, Oswald himself returned to Bamburgh in 634, which was the administrative area at the time, 

 he regained the kingship of Northumbria,

and even as a young king he amassed a mighty army to defeat Cadwallan.

Oswald was now determined to bring his own Christianity to the mostly pagan people of the indigenous population of his kingdom.


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 as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII.


It is said that the name Lindisfarne derives from the word 'Farne' meaning "retreat" as in somewhere to retreat to, and 'Lindis',

a small tidal river adjacent to the island.

However, there are others who think this reasoning is not the original meaning of the word Lindisfarne.

Several historical writers who have their own takes and ideas on the word Lindisfarne,

 today it is generally understood that there is no proof of how the Island got its name.

However, it is known that in 1082 the Benedictine Monks changed the name to Holy Island after the invasion of the Vikings and it was renamed

 Holy Island in memory of the monks whose blood was shed and were

 slaughtered there by the Viking invasions.

In 1613 the Earl of Dunbar ransacked what remained of the priory, removing the bells and even the lead from the roof.

The ship carrying the plunder sank in Lindisfarne harbour with great loss of life.

Many thought this was an act of Gods vengence.


There are several churches of different denominations on the island, however, the parish church is that of St. Mary the Virgin and is situated very close to the old priory.

Only "Islanders" and its descendants can be married in the church or buried in the church yard, other than by special dispensation.

There are several island rituals that are still carried out today by those taking part in the island marriage ceremony within the parish church on Holy Island

If we look at the photograph of the "Marriage Stone" (penultimate image on this page) we can read about one of the marriage traditions still performed today.


People return to the island year after year to celebrate their own personal faith at the birthplace of northern Christianity.

 Different people have different reasons for constantly returning to Holy Island, for some it’s a compulsion and they just can’t explain why they return again and again.

It is said you either fall in love with the island or its remoteness and the feeling of isolation scares you,

 not just because of its Christian history but also due to the tide cutting off the island from the mainland. However,

 this feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world can really frighten some people to a high degree and they can’t wait to get off the island the following

morning never to return again.

It is said the Island only allows certain people to return and this is the islands own way of doing this by choosing those who stay over on the island.

Some find peace here where others only feel fear and panic. Of course day visitors, of which there are many thousands, 

can never experience the peace or any of HolyIslands hidden experiences; this is because you have to stay there for several days to feel any of this.  


Many celebrities have visited the island on a regular basis including Magnus Magnusson and Sir Walter Scott who wrote of the island below:




For with the flow and ebb, its style

Varies from continent to isle;

                             Dry shood o'er sands, twice every day,                             

                  The pilgrims to the shrine find way;                    

Twice every day the waves efface

Of staves and sandelled feet the trace.


Sir Walter Scott





 St. Aidan the first bishop of Lindisfarne kindled

the lamp of Christianity in the north of England.

It was a lamp whos rays would illumine the

civilization of  Western Europe and gave

Lindisfarne a Golden Age whos afterglow confers

upon the little island still an aura, an ambience,

of remembered grace


Magnus Magnusson





The island is a popular destination for those looking for a retreat from the rat race of modern life,

The island boasts retreat houses of many different types, all offer a quiet and relaxing atmosphere where you can recharge the batteries.

However the main and most popular retreat house is the “The Marygate Trust”, the trust has two retreat houses on the main street of Marygate.

The island is extremely busy during the summer season. Many day visitors who drive over from the mainland and also those who actually stay in

holiday accommodation

on the island make it a busy place in summer.

If it’s a quiet retreat that is being sought then out of season is the way to really appreciate this truly beautiful and relaxing place.



The remains of the old Benedictine priory, which was rebuilt using sandstone from Goswick on the mainland, is now a crumbling ruin and in the hands of English Heritage.

The sandstone ruins are a far cry from the original Monastery of Aidans day when the original monastery would have been wood and wattle and not sandstone.

The priory was re-established in Norman times as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII,

when the Benedictine orders were dissolved



There are several houses of Christian worship of different denominations located on the Island;

however the parish church is probably the most visited by both day visitors and residential retreaters alike.

Below you will find a photograph of Marygate House one of the retreat houses attached to "The Marygate Trust" which has already been mentioned,

Marygate House has its own personal place of worship,

a crypt in the cellar of the house where each evening a short gathering of prayers and worship is practiced by the staff and those staying at The Trust,

however anyone and everyone is welcome to share in this worship.

It is a very intimate and comfortable candlelit gathering which last for aprox 15 to 20 minutes. The last time I was there,

which was February 2009, around 12 or 15 people attended each evening for this rather special time of sharing prayers and worship.



Lindisfarne Castle is located on the eastern side and is a popular visitor attraction.


The parish church of St. Mary is located close to the old priory next to the Holy Island museum.

A copy of The Lindisfarne Gospels was until recently kept in the church along with extensive history of the Island.

The original Lindisfarne Gospels are kept in the British Library in London,

it is no secret that many if not most Northumbrians would prefer the Gospels to be returned home to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne 



Click the photograph below to see the tide covering the Holy Island Causeway


The causeway to Holy Island from the mainland


 The causeway to Holy Island from The Village of Beal is aprox 3 miles in length and is the only way to drive to Holy Island.

 It is closed off twice a day by the incoming tide. There is no other access to the island other than by the air ambulance helicopter.



Safe crossing times for Holy Island click here






Click the image below to see the tides flooding the causeway.

The causeway from Holy Island to the mainland


October Sunset over the mainland with St. Cuthberts Island in the foreground


Click the above image for more information on St. Cuthbert





The mainland from St Cuthberts beach









A view of the A1 and the mainland from Holy Island







The Crown & Anchor. One of the three pubs on the island.

Accommodation on Holy Island click here





St Mary's Parish Church Holy Island (Click the image for more information)




 A view from "The Hough" of The old Benedictine Priory and St. Marys parish church.



Looking across to the mainland from Holy Island. Taken from St. Cuthberts beach.



Sunset over Holy Island.



















Red sunset over Holy island








Marygate House... One of two retreat houses belonging to The Marygate Trust. The house is situated on the

main street of the village opposite the island post office.


Click the above image for information on the Marygate Trust retreat house






Holy Island Post Office opposite Marygate House.








Click the above image for more photos of Lindisfarne Castle.




Holy Island Castle


The castle is located in what was once the very volatile border area between England and Scotland. Not only did the English and Scots fight,

but the area was frequently attacked by Vikings. The castle was built in 1550, around the time that Lindisfarne Priory went out of use, and

stones from the priory were used as building material. It is very small by the usual standards, and was more of a fort. The castle sits on the

highest point of the island, a whin stone hill called Beblowe.

Lindisfarnes's position in the North Sea made it vulnerable to attack from Scots and Norsemen, and by Tudor times it was clear there was a

need for a stronger fortification. This resulted in the creation of the fort on Beblowe Crag which between 1570 and 1572 formed the basis of

the present castle.

After Henry VIII had dissolved the priory, his troops used the remains as a naval store. Later, Elizabeth I had work carried out on the fort,

strengthening it and providing gun platforms for the new developments in artillery technology. When James I came to power, he combined the

 Scottish and English thrones, and the need for the castle declined. At this time the castle was still garrisoned from Berwick and protected the

 small Lindisfarne Harbour.

In the eighteenth century the castle was occupied briefly by Jacobite rebels, but was quickly recaptured by soldiers from Berwick who

imprisoned the rebels; they dug their way out and hid for nine days close to nearby Bamburgh Castle before making good their escape.

In later years the castle was used as a coastguard look-out and became something of a tourist attraction. Charles Rennie Mackintosh

made a sketch of the old fort in 1901.

In 1901, it became the property of Edward Hudson, a publishing magnate and the owner of Country Life magazine. He had it refurbished in

 the Arts and Crafts style by Sir Edwin Lutyens. It is said that Hudson and the architect came across the building while touring Northumberland

and climbed over the wall to explore inside.

The walled garden, which had originally been the garrison's vegetable plot, was designed by Lutyens' long-time friend and collaborator,

Gertrude Jekll between 1906 and 1912. It is some distance away from the castle itself. Between 2002 and 2006 it was restored to Jekyll's original

planting plan which is now held in the Reef Collection at the University of California, Berkeley. The castle, garden and nearby lime kilns have

been in the care of the National Trust since 1944 and are open to visitors.

Lutyens used upturned disused boats (herring busses) as sheds. In 2005, two of the boats were destroyed by arson. They were replaced in

2006 and the third boat has now been renovated by the National Trust. The replacement of the two burned boats by two new boat sheds features

on a new DVD Diary of an Island. This shows a fishing boat from Leith being cut in half in a boatyard in Eyemouth and the two "sheds" being

 transported to the island and lifted into place by crane.

The Spanish architect Enric Miralles used Lutyens' upturned herring busses as an inspiration for his design of the Scottish Parliament Building

in Edinburgh.[


 Lutyens' renovation

The entrance to the castle is quite dramatic and involves a steep climb around the rocky base. Lutyens' original slope was unprotected by

either rails or fences in an attempt to emphasise the exposed nature of the site. However, when the future George V and Queen Mary

visited in 1908, it is said they were alarmed by the slope and the cobbled surface.

Once inside the castle, the entrance hall is sectioned off by large stone pillars, somewhat reminiscent of a church nave with the dark reddish-brown

 of the stone contrasting with the whitewashed plasterwork. The space is completed by a bare stone floor.

The kitchen is almost as bare, and is dominated by a large stone fireplace. Here, as at Castle Drogo, Lutyens uses the space in interesting ways.

Throughout the castle, he has used stone, brick, slate and wood to create simple forms, and uses textures to demonstrate a rustic, spartan life-style.

Despite being a castle it remains a homely space where the human scale is room size, but with incongruous architectural elements. In the scullery

 there is a tiny window over a stone sink surrounded by the mechanism used to operate the portcullis.

After descending to the dining room one is inside the remnants of the Tudor fort. The vaults here and in the adjacent ship room are entirely functional

 as they support the gun battery above. The wide chimney-piece contains an old bread-oven; here Lutyens has emphasised the age of the room with

Neo-Gothic traceried windows framed by curtains which swing out to lie flat along the wall. One of the end walls is painted a rich Prussian Blue,

which contrasts with the herring-bone patterned red-brick floor.

Next door is the ship room where a green wall fulfils a similar role. The furniture is in keeping, with much dark wood in the tables and cabinets.

The few upholstered chairs and sofas have now faded to gentle tones. The largest bedroom, the east, is bright and airy and again has curtains on pull-out poles.

The long gallery was a new space created by Lutyens, intended to echo the grand galleries of Elizabethan and Jacobean houses. The scale is much smaller,

but again the use of exposed stone arches and oak beams provides a grand yet rustic feel. Further on, an upper gallery has a raised platform at one end.

From here an oak door leads onto the upper battery with its spectacular views along the coastline. The music room at the castle was used by Guilhermina Suggia,

a frequent visitor, and a cello is left in the room today to mark this.

Lindisfarne Castle has provided a shooting location for a number of films, notably Roman Polanski's The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) in which it stands in

for Glamis Castle.



Link to web site ....










Holy Island Castle and harbour








Holy Island Castle and harbour (2)







St. Cuthberts Island situated just off Holy island





This is a shot taken from the harbour of the holiday resort of Seahouses South of Holy Island.

Holy Island can be seen in the very far distance,

Bamburgh Castle is in the left of the picture. Boat access to The Farne Islands is from the harbour at Seahouses. 














The Hough

                            The Hough is a section of high ground situated on the west side of the island and overlooks the mainland and the A1.                           

It gives panoramic views of Holy island including The P{riory and the parish church of St. Mary.

The views stretch out southwards to the Farn Islands and Bamburgh Castle









Sunset Over The Hough

A silhouette taken by Lynsey Miller








Looking over St. Cuthberts Island to the mainland from Lindisfarne.


St. Cuthbert Web link.....








The Marriage Stone


also known as the Petting Stone, click the image for more information



This large stone situated just outside of St. Mary’s Parish Church and close to the priory gates

It is said to be the altar stone of St. Cuthbert and used for holding his altar cross during his days

as Bishop of Lindisfarne.

The stone is now called ‘The Marriage Stone’, this is because when a bride has completed her

marriage ceremony she has to jump over the stone, assisted by two local fishermen.

If she clears the stone then it is said she will have a untroubled marriage, however,

if she stumbles and catches herself on the stone then the reverse will happen.










The Norman archway to the ruins of the old priory.






Lindisfarne Priory





For information on the Lindisfarne Gospels click here



A telephoto image of Inner Farn,

this is the largest of the Farn Islands.











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