Lindisfarne Priory - History and Facts | History Hit

Lindisfarne Priory

Holy Island, England, United Kingdom

Lindisfarne Priory, on the mystical Holy Island, is the dramatic ruin of a 11th century Benedictine monastery and a place of pilgrimage.

Lily Johnson

04 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lindisfarne Priory

An important Christian site, Lindisfarne Priory was a Benedictine monastery built in the 7th century which even today remains a place of pilgrimage. Its location on what is known as the Holy Island adds to the mysticism and sheer serenity of Lindisfarne Priory, particularly as this picturesque island is only accessible from the mainland twice daily during low tide.

Lindisfarne Priory history

The first monastery to be built at Lindisfarne was founded by St Aidan in 635 AD. It was a thriving Benedictine monastery and became the burial place of Saint Cuthbert, who had lived there for a time.

It was also at Lindisfarne Priory that the Lindisfarne Gospels were created, however this incarnation of Lindisfarne Priory was subjected to numerous Viking attacks, including in 793 and 875 AD, leading the monks to abandon the site in the 10th century and found Durham Cathedral.

The monks returned to the Holy Island in the 11th century however, and for a time Lindisfarne Priory once again flourished. Yet in 1536, the priory was disbanded by Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries, after which it was used as a naval storehouse.

Lindisfarne Priory today

Today, the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory form a hauntingly beautiful site on the isolated Holy Island. Ornately decorated and magnificently engineered, the dramatic remains of the priory are well preserved, offering a good insight into how this vast building looked in its heyday.

Managed by English Heritage, the site includes a museum which explores the history of Lindisfarne Priory and that of Saint Cuthbert. A visit to the priory and museum usually lasts an hour or so.

Those wishing to see the Lindisfarne Gospels can view them at the British Museum, while Saint Cuthbert’s coffin was also moved to Durham Cathedral when the monks fled to the peninsular, and his tomb remains there to this day.

Getting to Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory is located on Holy Island off the coast of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and can only be reached at low tide across the causeway. Berwick-upon-Tweed train station is 14 miles away, while the Perrymans bus service 477 provides access to the site.

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