Lindisfarne: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Lindisfarne.

  • Lindisfarne is a small island located off the northeast coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and is home to a priory and castle.
  • The island measures just over 4 km square and is almost 3 km from the mainland. It can be reached by a causeway which can only be safely crossed at low tide.

  • Despite posted warnings, at least one car is stranded on the causeway each month. It costs over £4,000 to rescue people by air and £2,000 for a sea rescue.
  • The priory on Lindisfarne was founded in the 7th century by St. Aidan, and the island became an important Christian site. He went for long walks around the island and mainland to meet the local people.
  • St. Cuthbert was later bishop here and one of the oldest pieces of English writing is his biography. His body was taken to nearby Durham Cathedral after the Viking raid of 793.
  • Lindisfarne was one of the first places in Britain to be attacked by Viking raiders. In 793 Viking raiders attacked the monastery at Lindisfarne. They killed several of the monks, set buildings alight, and stole valuable items.
  • During the early 8th century, a Latin copy of some of the gospels was written at Lindisfarne. The manuscript, known for its beautiful illustrations, is called the Lindisfarne Gospels.
  • Monks on Lindisfarne made honey wine, known as mead. Although the monks have now gone, the mead is still made today using water from the island’s well and its exact recipe is kept a secret.
  • Lindisfarne Castle was built during the 16th century, to defend the island. The castle walls were strengthened with yak hair to stop the rain from eroding them.
  • The Lindisfarne Nature Reserve surrounds the island and occupies almost 9,000 acres. The reserve is the only winter nesting place for the Norwegian pale bellied brent goose.
  • The parish church of Lindisfarne dates from the 7th century. It has a replica of St. Cuthbert’s coffin as well as a wooden sculpture showing his body being carried to Durham.

What next? Learn more about the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons by visiting our resources pages.

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