The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is an unspoiled medieval island that lies in the North East of England. Steeped in religious history this North East treasure is an international centre of pilgrimage.
The Anglo-Saxons who first lived on the island originally called the island Lindisfarne, though no-one knows its meaning. Some Durham monks later added the words ‘Holy Island’ after they read the stories of Saint Aiden and Saint Cuthbert. St. Aiden built the first monastery, which was afterwards religiously maintained by the popular St. Cuthbert until a brutal Viking attack in 793AD killed Cuthbert. The Durham monks perceived Cuthbert’s death as martyrdom, and in addition to the earlier Saints who inhabited the island, the island was appropriately named ‘Holy’.
The island is abounding with ancient ruins; you can easily walk to the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory located near the village. The Priory was where the marvellous ‘Lindisfarne Gospels’ were produced, which can be seen in the recently renovated museum nearby. Also the Lindisfarne Castle built in 1550 during the period of destruction of monasteries by Henry VIII is a picturesque landmark of the island. Easily accessible along a coastal pathway, the top of the castle offers spectacular views of the ocean and island.
The island is also rich in wildlife offering fantastic views of bird life and marine life. The shoreline, now being preserved, occupies the Northern Octopus (longest animal in Britain), as well as Pipe Fish, Fifteen Stickleback and a rich variety of marine shellfish.
Offshore are large numbers of grey seal and several hundred common seals. Needless to say, Lindisfarne offers the ideal surroundings for the avid photographers and painters.
A visit to St. Aidan’s Winery, home to Lindisfarne Mead is essential. Produced on the Holy Island, Lindisfarne Mead is an alcoholic wine fermented from white grapes, honey, herbs, and the pure natural water from the island. To many, Lindisfarne Mead is regarded as the ‘nectar of the gods’.
For centuries mead has been regarded as an ‘aphrodisiac’ and the word ‘honeymoon’ derives from the ancient Norwegian custom of having newly-weds drink mead for a whole month in order to increase their fertility.
A word of caution, Lindisfarne is a tidal island. Twice a day the tide sweeps in from the North Sea and covers the road. Make sure to check tidal times before visiting, otherwise you could find yourself stranded!
Where to eat…
BeanGoose Restaurant: Situated in the Market Square next to Lindisfarne Priory Museum. This award winning restaurant provides freshly prepared organic and fairtrade evening meals. The restaurant also proudly promotes environmentally friendly living, with its solar thermal panels used to heat the water.
The Ship Inn: For those with a love of locally brewed ales and traditional pub food, the Ship Inn offers the ideal place to relax. The speciality on the menu is fish, and most dishes are homemade.
Where to stay…
There’s plenty of choice to stay in Lindisfarne, predominantly a selection of self-catered cottages and retreat accommodations. For more information click here.
Lindisfarne Hotel: Located on the beautiful island, the Lindisfarne Hotel offers luxurious accommodation and the perfect base to see the island. The owners Sean and Jacqualine Atkinson warmly welcome their visitors, making them feel relaxed and special on this magical island.
View The Holy Island in Lindisfarne in a map