Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle
Holy Island of Lindisfarne is one of Northumberland’s biggest attractions to tourists visiting the county. Located off the east coast of Northumberland, Holy Island has an ancient spiritual heritage stretching back to the 6th century.
Experience the serenity of Lindisfarne Priory, cut off from the world on the beautiful Holy Island. Take in panoramic views of the Northumbrian coast, unpack a picnic in the priory grounds and take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Wander the richly-decorated, extensive ruins and explore the fascinating history of this site in the excellent visitor centre. With lively interpretation, discover the enthralling story of the monks who lived on Holy Island, the grisly Viking invasions and the part Henry VIII played in the history of the Priory.
Lindisfarne Priory was one of the most important centres of early Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England. Founded by St Aidan in AD635, the site owes its fame to St Cuthbert, the greatest of Northumbrian holy men, who lived and died there. Stroll around the Monastic buildings which formed the living quarters of the monks, the remote setting adds to the unique atmosphere of the Priory.
St Aidan’s Winery is the home of the world famous Lindisfarne Mead and Lindisfarne Preserves.
Lindisfarne Mead is a unique alcoholic fortified wine manufactured here on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The honey which is used in the production of Lindisfarne Mead is drawn from the four corners of the world and here, on the island, it is vatted with fermented grape juice, honey, herbs, and the pure natural water of an artesian well, then fortified with fine spirits to produce this unique drink.
World famous Lindisfarne Mead is not only the connoisseur’s choice but makes a supreme drink for young and old alike whatever the season. To many, it is regarded as the ‘nectar of the gods’. You must visit the shop on Holy Island to sample the spirit and to take a souvenir home with you!
The History of Holy Island
Still a place of pilgrimage even in these more secular times, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is the very head of England’s Christian heritage. It was on Holy Island that the early Christian message was honed and distributed to a largely pagan Northumberland. Lindisfarne Priory was the home of St Cuthbert and the birthplace of a true national treasure – the Lindisfarne Gospels, a unique illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Mark, Luke and John. The Lindisfarne Heritage Centre contains an electronic copy of the book – the real version is kept in London’s British Library – and also presents a complete history of the island that brings the story of St Cuthbert to life. Pilgrims of a different type also find their way across the Holy Island causeway to see its treasures, although you must remember to check tidal times before you set off.
Holy Island has a national reputation as a wildlife haven and is home to a national nature reserve. As well as numerous rare birds, you may even spot the grey seals that are resident on the nearby Farne Islands all year round. Standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the island is Lindisfarne Castle – a small fortress first built in 1550 and today looked after by the National Trust. Holy Island is small, but its close-knit community has adapted well to the thousands of visitors that descend on the island every year. Find a sunny bench outside a local pub and sample a fresh crab sandwich – a Northumberland specialty. There really is nothing like it!
Where to Eat Nearby
If you’re feeling peckish after a day out at Holy Island, then The Barn at Beal is a fantastic place to stop for a bite to eat. They serve everything from a coffee and a slice of cake, to a 3 course meal with a glass of wine. The café itself is delightful, with far reaching views out to Holy Island and the surrounding countryside and there is a gift shop there too. The food here is homemade and delicious. The Barn at Beal is located before you drive over the Holy Island Causeway. Tel: 01289 540044
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