Northumberland Cottage

Holy Island

Holy Island Holy Island Holy Island Holy Island Holy Island Holy Island

Drive up the A697 to Wooler then cross the moor on the B6525, to Lowick. Then take the B6353, to take you to the A1 at Fenwick. Cross the A1 to the causeway at Beal. It's a good day out incorporating Berwick (north on the A1) if you have time.

Originally known as Lindisfarne and often described as the Jewel of the Northumberland Coast, Holy Island is a beautiful island community about ¾ hour's drive from Branton. With its castle, abbey, pub, shops, nature reserve and glorious sandy beaches it is well worth a visit. The island is accessed via a causeway which is only passable at low tide; safe crossing times are displayed at each end or ring the Tourist information centre for these (01665) 510665. Do not venture onto the causeway outside these times, as the tide comes in very quickly!

In the 7th century it was one of the great seats of Christian learning in Western Europe and was where the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels were written. Adjacent to the ruins of the Benedictine Priory, destroyed by Henry VIII, is a Visitor Centre commemorating the life of the monks. The stones from the Priory were used to build the unforgettable Lindisfarne Castle.

The Lindisfarne Gospels were written in the late 7th century to celebrate the life of St Cuthbert. Housed in the British Library, they are quite simply the greatest European artwork from that time. A facsimile version is on display in the Lindisfarne Heritage Centre on the island. There is an active campaign for the permanent return of the Gospels to the North East

As well as its many historic attractions, Holy Island is situated at the heart of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Extensive dunelands, intertidal sand and mud flats, saltmarsh and ancient raised beaches support a wide variety of plant life and attract vast numbers of birds. Like Norham and Bedlington, Holy Island (Islandshire) was part of the Palatinate of County Durham and controlled by the Bishop of Durham from medieval times. The final transfer back to the County of Northumberland was not completed until 1844.

The castle was built on the orders of Henry VIII in 1550 (using stones taken from Lindisfarne Priory) to protect Holy Island from attack by the Scots, and it was converted into a private home by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1903. The rooms are filled with a fine collection of antique furniture, mostly oak, of the early 17th century.


Last updated: 8 October, 2007
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