Saints and Stones: Lindisfarne (Holy Island)

The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded in 635 A.D. by Irish born St. Aidan, a monk from the monastery of Iona off the west coast of Scotland, at the request of King Oswald of Northumbria. Lindisfarne became the base for the conversion of northern England to Christianity. In its short existence, it was home to several major saints. Notable Bishops of Lindisfarne were St. Finan, St. Eata, St. Colman, and St. Cuthbert, Northumberland's patron saint. Notable saints who were students at Lindisfarne included St. Chad, St. Cedd, and St. Wilfrid. The monastery was eventually abandoned after being ransacked numerous times by Vikings. The monastery was the site of the creation of the illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, which today resides in the British Library in London. The priory, the ruins of which can be seen today, was built by Benedictine monks from Durham in the 12th Century.

St. Aidan was responsible, along with his fellow monks, for the establishment of numerous monasteries and churches throughout northern England and southeast Scotland. He died in 651 A.D. in the village of Bamburgh, south of Lindisfarne. The statue of St. Aidan resides near the ruins of the 12th Century priory. St. Cuthbert was Bishop of Lindisfarne for only two years from 685 to 687, but he was nevertheless one of Lindisfarne's most notable personages. Born in Northumbria and educated at Old Melrose, he was responsible during his lifetime for the establishment of numerous monasteries and churches throughout the region. He died in 687 on the island of Inner Farne off the Nortumberland coast from Bamburgh where he retired after leaving his position at Lindisfarne. The patron St. of Northumberland, he is buried in Durham Cathedral where his body was taken by monks fleeing the Viking raids. The statue of St. Cuthbert is by local Northumbrian artist Fenwick Lawson and resides on the grounds of the priory. St. Cuthbert Island lies just offshore from Lindisfarne is accessible at low tide. St. Cuthbert used this small island as a retreat for a short time before moving to the more secluded Inner Farne in the North Sea off of Bamburgh.

The oldest building on Holy Island and the only building that retains work from the Saxon period, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, was largely a 13th Century creation built over earlier 11th Century fragments. It has been speculated that the church was built around St. Aidan's wooden church, and that St. Aidan worshipped on this site in the early years of Lindisfarne.

About Lindisfarne

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Website
English Heritage: Lindisfarne Priory
Wikipedia: Lindisfarne
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Ancient Diocese and Monastery of Lindisfarne
Wikipedia: Aidan of Lindisfarne
Wikipedia: Cuthbert
Wikipedia: Oswald of Northumbria

Journey to Lindisfarne (Holy Island)

Lindisfarne (Holy Island) is located off the A1 and just offshore of the Northumberland coast in Northeast England. Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a long causeway. Twice each day the tide sweeps in from the North Sea and covers the road to the island.

Ordnance Survey Map (NU1289042630)

Visitors Information

Visitors onformation on Lindisfarne may be found on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne website. Included is general travel information, including up-to-date causeway crossing times, information on accommodation and what to see on the island, and information on the religious, cultural, and natural history of the island. General tourist information on the area may be found at the Visit Nothumberland website.

Additional Photos of Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island (2004)
Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island (2004)
Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island (2004)
Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island (2004)
St. Aidan's Statue, Holy Island (2004)
St. Cuthbert's Statue, Holy Island (2004)
Lindisfarne Priory with Lindisfarne Castle in the Distance (2013)
Close-Up of the Rainbow Arch, Lindisfarne Priory (2013)
View of Priory Grounds from the Heugh, Lindisfarne Priory (2013)
Close-Up of Priory Ruins from the Heugh, Lindisfarne Priory (2013)
St. Aidan's Statue, Lindisfarne Priory (2013)
St. Aidan's Statue and Lindisfarne Priory (2013)

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