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Lindisfarne Priory

(on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, in NE England just south of Berwick-upon-Tweed)

 

 

 

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This is the view looking back from Lindisfarne ("The Holy Island")  towards the coast just south of the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.  The island is reached via a tidal causeway road which is passable for 12 hours in every 24.  Looking out to sea (below) the only high ground is occupied by a small castle.

 

Lidisfarne Web Site including Tide Timetables

 

 

 

 

 

The Priory ruins from the west - church facade on the left and distant castle viewable through the gap where the monks' quarters would have been.

 

 

Lindisfarne is one of the holiest places in Britain, having played host to Saint Aidan (an Irishman who travelled from the Isle of Iona), who founded a monastery here in 635, and the more famous still Saint Cuthbert who hailed from what is now the Scottish borders, and started his monastic life in the Monastery of Melrose - predecessor to a later great Cistercian Abbey - and who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in the 670s.

 

The Lindisfarne Gospels, a beautifully illuminated 258 page manuscript drawn on parchment (stretched and dried calf skins), were produced in the monastery in the 700s.

 

Everything was destroyed by the Vikings who first appeared on the scene in 793, when the monks fled with the remains of Cuthbert.  These ended their medieval days in Durham Cathedral (then Abbey) as the centrepiece of England's most visited shrine in the pre-Becket era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking East down what was the nave of the later Priory Church dating from the 1100s return of the monks to Lindisfarne after the end of the "Viking Troubles" and the arrival of the Normans.  The arch is one of the two transverse ribs of the roof of the crossing of the priory church.

 

 

 

 

Looking east across the cloister square to the gap where the chapter house (downstairs) and monks dormitory (upstairs).

 

 

Many of the stones have weathered into fascinating patterns

 

Anyone who has been to Durham Cathedral or Waltham Abbey will recognize the patterning on one of the two remaining  nave columns

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tombstone in the Lindisfarne Museum was the magic bonus to the visit.  The soldiers (below) are carrying Viking battle axes - the first Viking raids were in 793.  The symbolism on the other face of the stone is unclear - sun, moon, hands, cross (which possibly had something valuable secured at its crossing point) and prostrate figures - but it's very beautiful.  There is an interesting similarity between the image below and one of only a handful of images of the fourth crusade to survive - in the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Ravenna.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for a good north of England 9" diameter pub lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikon man at work

 

 

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All original material Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission