Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the coast of northeastern England, a mere 70 miles southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland. While tidal waters cut the island off from the mainland of Great Britain, it is reachable by causeway during certain times of the day. While this picturesque jut of land rising from the North Sea has been thought to be holy for many centuries, it’s popularity with travelers has grown over recent years.
The first mention of Lindisfarne appears in the ninth century under a Latin word meaning “healing island”. In 635, Irish monk Saint Aidan established a monastery on the island, settled by monks from the Scottish island of Iona. A monk by the name of Cuthbert, later the Bishop of Lindisfarne, eventually became Saint Cuthbert, the patron saint of Northumberland. For these reasons, the small island is also known locally as the Holy Island.
Perhaps Lindisfarne’s greatest contribution to history are the beautifully illustrated Lindisfarne Gospels, believed to have been created by two monks between the eighth and and tenth centuries. These pages are illustrated in a melding of Celtic, Germanic, and Roman components, one of today’s oldest surviving Old English copies of the gospels. Today, this artifact is meticulously cared for at the British Museum in London.
In 793, the Holy Island became the first target of Britain’s Viking Age. After additional raids in 875 AD destroyed the entire community of Lindisfarne, the few surviving monks gathered their holy relics and fled to the cathedral in Durham. A Benedictine abbey was established on the island at the end of the 11th century, remaining until King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church in 1536. In the mid-19th century, Lindisfarne became the site of industry when a Scottish company built lime kilns on the island, remnants of which have been carefully preserved for historical significance.
One of the main attractions to this Holy Island is the ruined monastery, whose skeleton still stands as a reminder of those treacherous times. The English Heritage maintain the ruins, including a museum and a visitor center. Another of the island’s attractions is Lindisfarne Castle, a unique blending of Tudor and Arts and Crafts architecture, and its nearby gardens. The island’s two lighthouses hold historical significance, as well, especially that of Emmanuel Head. This 35 foot high white brick pyramid has stood at the northeastern point of the island since 1810.
Lindisfarne Lodging & Accommodation
Travelers who choose to stay on the island experience a much more intimate Lindisfarne than those who leave before the tides rise. Most accommodations on Lindesfarne are bed and breakfasts, such as the well-reviewed Bamburgh View guest house. Vacation rental houses and cottages are also an option throughout the island.