A Postcard from Holy Island….


Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Northumberland

A few weeks ago I posted a single image of Lindisfarne Abbey together with a few comments about its history.  There were several enquires asking if I had more images of these ruins. As the Abbey (originally a Priory) is just one part of a very special place which is called Lindisfarne and more commonly Holy Island, I thought I would send you a Postcard to include a little more of the Island as well as the Abbey.

As space is always restricted on a postcard here is a very brief resume of the Holy Islands history.  From 635AD when Saint Aidan (pic below) founded the Priory Lindisfarne became the centre for the rise of Christianity in the North of England. Saint Cuthbert and Saint Oswald added to the Islands Religious importance. It was here that the Lindisfarne Gospels were written and illustrated which are now housed in the British Library.  The Priory and late the Abbey also had trouble times.  It was re-established following the Norman Conquest circa 1069AD but was later destroyed on orders of Henry VIII during the dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

The Island today seems idyllic and indeed it is a special place.  Isolated from the mainland at high tides it is in a world of its own, today only disturbed by visitors. But its history has been far from tranquil.  The religious calm was first disturbed by a very brutal Viking invasion in 798AD..  A castle became an essential. The Islands location close to the Scottish Border ensured it was embroiled in Border Raids and The Jacobite Rebellions.  Much late its location was an important defence post during the World Wars.

Although the Island is very small it has enjoyed a busy commercial life.  Fishing is the most obvious industry, later Limestone was excavated and a substantial series of Limekilns built near the shallow sloping beach which became a harbour to transport the Lime to much of the North of England.

Lindisfarne Castle, strategically built on the highest point of the island in 1570AD., just at the time the Priory was falling into disuse. It is an imposing castle but the one you can view today (it is now a National Trust Property) is the result of 20th century modifications by the famous Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, its interior very much in what is know as the Arts and Crafts style.

   The only violence today comes from winter storms, so visitors during the rest of the year can enjoy some peace that only a small island can provide…. a time to stroll the islands coastline, the dunes and the beaches… perhaps even build your own monument to Lindisfarne the Holy Island.


Here is the link to the earlier blog:-


As this is a Postcard there is much left untold and much truncated. If you need to find out more then the usual www search engines can add to the story


28th December

(C) David Oakes 2019