Re-posted from Archaeodeath
This is my fourth and final comment about a short visit to Lindisfarne. The principal reason for my visit was to view the early medieval stone sculpture in the visitor centre and priory. Strip away the archaeological excavations elsewhere on Holy Island, strip away the historical record, the vast majority of the material evidence that this had been an important monastic foundation of the seventh to ninth centuries AD comes from the collection of Anglo-Saxon sculpted stones discovered in and around the priory. It is a fabulous and varied collection as one might expect. I have already mentioned the Petting Stone. In the priory itself is a cross-base with serpentine crosses on its front.
Lindisfarne Priory from the Heugh
Re-posted from Archaeodeath.
Recently, for the first time in my adult life, I had the opportunity to visit the premier medieval site of Lindisfarne. This is a site of key historic and archaeological importance for understanding the Anglo-Saxon church, its origins, development and diversity. It was here that Aidan established the earliest Christian monastic foundation in the kingdom of Northumbria. His founder status was superseded to a large extent by the cult of St Cuthbert, but forgotten he was not. Lindisfarne is also famous for being subject to one of the earliest, and certainly the most famous of Norse raids, in AD 793. Following a decline (or abandonment) of the site during the tenth century, the Benedictine priory was a focus of monastic life and pilgrimage to the cenotaph of Cuthbert’s original grave and to St Cuthbert’s Isle – the site of his hermit’s cell – through the Middle Ages. The monastery survived until Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries.
The English Heritage commissioned artist’s impression of the Anglo-Saxon monastic site
I couldn’t stay long on the island, but I can only enthuse about the striking landscape and seascape, appreciable even from a short visit. The first thing to note is the striking topography of the island itself, joined as it is by a tidal causeway to the mainland. Dunes constitute much of the north of the island, leaving a relatively small and protected area of habitable ground. The Anglo-Saxon monastery was located beside a natural harbour on the sheltered southern shore.