Lindisfarne is a tidal island and pilgrimage centre off the north east coast of England, near the border with Scotland. It is known as The Cradle of Christianity to English speaking people. This is because Saint Aidan brought the Irish Mission to the English in 635 and made Lindisfarne his base. Here he established perhaps the first school of English (Anglo-Saxon) boys.  This Irish monk laid down his life to bring the Gospel to a foreign people and to establish an indigeneous English church.  On the night of his death in 651 a teenage Anglo Saxon named Cuthbert saw a vision of  Aidan being escorted to heaven. Cuthbert became a great leader of the English church, prior and lastly Bishop of Lindisfarne. After his death the famous Lindisfarne Gospels were dedicated to him, his body remained uncorrupt,  miracles occurred at his shrine, multitudes came to it, which is why Alcuin wrote that Lindisfarne was 'the most holy place in England' and a king declared it should be known as Holy Island.

In 793 Lindisfarne became the first place to be destroyed by Viking invasions. Cuthbert's shrine ended up at Durham Cathedral, and the Benedictine Community there built a daughter priory on Lindisfarne about 1150, the remains of which are maintained by English Heritage, as is the priory museum.

After centuries of hard times the island became a fishing and farming community. Today there are  more than a dozen fishermen,  two farms, three hotels, cafe's, shops and self-catering  accommodation and about 140 residents. Holy Island Development Trust has built affordable housing for islanders to rent and in partnership with others is pioneering new projects, including harbour improvements and an educational bird hyde. Lindisfarne and the surounding coastal area  is a nature reserve, maintained by Natural England; many species of bird visit it and it has some rare wild flowers in the dunes. You can walk round the main part of the island in two hours. Lindisfarne marks the end of the 63 mile St. Cuthbert's Way walk from Melrose.

With the advent of the motor car and a five mile tarmacked causeway  visitors greatly increased. (A bus service now provides a daily service between the mainland and the island. Between May and the end of October, The Lindisfarne Hopper, runs between Haggerstone Castle holiday park, connecting with the North & South Arriva services at Beal. Timetables can be found either on Woody's Taxis facebook page or here.) Over the last fifty years  it has strongly revived as a place of pilgrimage. The following have contributed to this revival: the introduction of three daily services at St. Mary's Parish Church (which is on the site of Aidan's original monastery), the popular books of prayers by David Adam,  its former vicar, the establishment of Marygate House as a retreat house, the modernisation of Saint Aidan's Roman Catholic Church, the transformation of the former United Reformed Church into St. Cuthbert's Visitors Centre, the opening of the Lindisfarne Centre with  its digital Lindisfarne Gospels, Mary Fleeson's contemporary Lindisfarne Scriptorium and the Holy Island web site.

Pilgrim WalksPilgrims labyrinth on Lindisfarne beach

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Pilgrim Guide leaflet is available at The Open Gate, The Lindisfarne Scriptorium and elsewhere.

The Lindisfarne Centre has guides on nature and local interest walks.

24/7 Prayer on Holy Island - see Download.                           

           Pilgrims Labyrinth on Lindisfarne Beach

Pilgrimage Walks

St. Aidan's Way ' Aberlady to Lindisfarne  See leaflet and info from

St. Cuthbert's Way - Melrose to Lindisfarne  63 miles. See Downloads 'St. Cuthbert's Way Pilgrim Prayers Menu';

 St. Oswalds's Way - Lindisfarne to Heavenfield   See

Forth to Farne Way a 72 mile walk from North Berwick to Lindisfarne or


One Tapestry: many strands

  Scholars detect strands of art in the Lindisfarne Gospels that come from many sources: Byzantine, Coptic, Irish, Oriental, Mediterranean, Pictish, Roman and Saxon.

  Still today visitors from many parts are drawn to connect with a particular strand that makes up the tapestry of Lindisfarne. These include:

• Birds or nature

• Day out by the sea

• Pilgrim walks and prayer

• Priory and Benedictine period

• Some secular enthusiasts say that the island is holy in name but not in nature, and has been secular since the dissolution of the priory at the Reformation.

• Others seek to re- connect today with the ethos of the earlier period of Aidan and Cuthbert, with its humility and service, rhythm and community.


Useful books:

Story of Holy Island by Kate Tristram, Canterbury Press

A Holy Island Prayer Book by Ray Simpson published by Morehouse (USA) and Canterbury Press (UK).

Lindisfarne: the Cradle Island by Magnus Magnusson published by Tempus Publishing Ltd

Give Yourself a Holy Island Retreat by Ray Simpson available from St. Aidan Press. St. Aidan Press is an imprint of the interntional Community of Aidan and Hilda

Holy Island of Lindisfarne by David Adam, SPCK.

Embracing Change: Spirituality and the Lindisfarne Gospels by Ewan Clayton. Photographs by Robert Cooper.

The Lindisfarne Gospels: The English Church and our Multi-cultural World: Liturgies and Resources by Ray Simpson

The Community of Aidan and Hilda’s Celtic Library next to the Gospels Garden is available for use by students who book through The Community Website.

 Speakers to Pilgrim Groups 

Various people do this including Canon Kate Tristram (history of Lindisfarne and its saints) tel: 01289 389306 and Revd Ray Simpson who may also be able to offer spiritual direction to guests and pilgrims.

Conference venues:

Holy Island Village Hall:  Contact: David O'Connor <> or :

St. Cuthbert's Centre


 See link below and Downloads

 Links: and see  John Tierney has a vocation to paint Holy Island pictures in oils

Lindisfarne castle:


Tide times:

An example of a holiday cottage advert with great pictures:

Wider pilgrim links:  The Queen's visit to Holy Island

REEP Pilgrimage - Ray Simpson Interview - Cached


a prayer...

We arise today
in the wisdom of the One
who brought to birth the giant plains,
the water and the first beings.
We arise today
in the brightness of the One
who created the blazing sun,
the shining stars and the twinkle in our eyes.
We arise today
in the mercy of the One
who gave us dreams
and memories and hearts.

Taken from
1. Brendan's Return Voyage
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1. Monk in the marketplace and the Simpsons.
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