Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, Northumberland
It is on a tiny Island, to become known as Holy Island, that King Oswald of Northumberland directed that a Monastery be built. He had already summoned Saint Aidan to travel from Iona to found a Celtic Christian community…this was in 635ad.
Lindisfarne as it was called became a powerful and influential Religious Centre. It was Saint Aidan who took the challenge forward but there after he was followed by Cuthbert, Eadfrith of Lindisfarne and then Eadberht of Lindisfarne.
The history is quite involved, so if you are really keen I suggest you read further, maybe the English Heritage site. Here is a very brief overview. It was 670 that Cuthbert joined the Monastic community. He soon became both influential and also divisive. Perhaps it was after his death in 687 that his spiritual powers started to become part of the legend that is Lindisfarne. He was buried in a stone tomb within the Priory. Then some 11 years later, in 689, he was exhumed…. his body had not decade and a ‘miracle’ of Saintly proportions was declared. Instead of a reburial a Shrine was erected in the Priory which soon became a place of Pilgrimage and Religious Fame.
From 710 to 725, Lindisfarne continue to grow in Monastic importance, a place of religious education and study…. most notably the publication of the Lindisfarne Gospels, still considered one of the most important Religious Writings.
Soon all fell apart when the first major Viking Invasion on mainland Britain occurred. Destruction and plunder followed. The Monks had foresight and removed Cuthbert’s remains to safety, travelling across the north of England to keep one step ahead of any pursuit.
Peace of sorts returned shortly after 1069 and Cuthbert’s remains were returned and by 1122 a Monastery under the guidance of Durham Cathedral was re-established.
Of course Religious buildings were never totally secure. Lindisfarne suffered in the ‘Border Wars’ and of course in the Abolition Orders.
I should add as a footnote that Holy Island is a rather enchanting place. Assessable only at low tide via a causeway, surrounded by the North Sea. There is a Castle of much more modern date than the Priory and a small community that gets engulfed by hundreds of visitors every low tide.
But for me I have always founded it to have both a special feel, peace and having very special light.
(C) David Oakes 2019