A holy enchanting destination

There are very few places where you can be transported back 15 centuries, but this is one of them. Wander along the shores of the North Sea, on a pristine lawn under the rocky arches and ruins of an ancient priory where Christianity was born in England, where brave and pious monks transcribed the words of the Gospels into masterpieces of illuminated art, and were martyred in bloody Viking raids. Explore a medieval castle on a forbidding cliff, defending England against the Scots from the North and the Vikings from the sea.

Holy Island was first known by its Anglo Saxon name Lindisfarne when an Irish monk named St. Aidan founded a monastery in 635 AD on a mission to bring Christianity to the pagans of Northumbria in Northeast England. The location is a tidal island, which even today can be accessed on a causeway, open only when the North Sea is at low tide. Or from the sea itself, where it was an easy prey for Viking predators. It was renamed Holy Island after a particularly bloody raid in 793 AD, when one of the surviving local monks wrote:

Lindisfarne – baptized in the blood of so many good men – truly a “Holy Island.” It is more properly named Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It remained a center of Christian thought and activity until Henry VIII closed the monastery in 1537. Located off the extreme northeast corner of England near Berwick-Upon-Tweed has since grown into a popular tourist destination. According to their travel brochure, “the small population of just over 160 persons is swelled by the influx of over 650,000 visitors from all over the world every year.”

More than the monastery, the medieval castle and the peaceful tranquility of the location, there is a remote natural conservation site with unique flora and fauna, and quiet beaches. In addition to sightseers, bird-watcher, walkers, fishermen, writers, photographers, artists, and naturalists, the area, according to the tourist literature, attracts “thousands of Christian and non-Christian pilgrims.”

Overnight accommodations on Holy Island are extremely limited with about only 40 available rooms. Tourists planning a visit are encouraged to call well in advance for reservations. Many tourism advisors suggest expanding the trip to include the entire North Northumberland region, with a wealth of attractions, lodging and dining between Newcastle and Edinburgh.

For more information, check out the Holy Island of Lindisfarne on Amazon.