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Lindisfarne Priory Northumberland England

Lindisfarne Priory Northumberland England (Known places)

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Lindisfarne (variant spelling, Lindesfarne) is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England also known as Holy Island, the name of the civil parish. The name Lindisfarne derives from Farne meaning "retreat" and Lindis, a small tidal river adjacent to the island. It has a population of 162.

Medcaut

The island of Lindisfarne appears under the Old Welsh name Medcaut in the ninth-century Historia Brittonum. Following up on a suggestion by Richard Coates, Andrew Breeze proposes that the name ultimately derives from Latin Medicata (Insula) "Healing (Island)", owing perhaps to the island's reputation for medicinal herbs. The Historia Brittonum recounts how in the sixth century, Urien, prince of Rheged, besieged the Angles led by Theodoric at the island for three days and three nights.

Monastery

The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded by Irish born Saint Aidan, who had been sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald around AD 635. It became the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England and also sent a very successful mission to Mercia. Monks from the community of Iona settled on the island. Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later Abbot of the monastery, and his miracles and life are recorded by the Venerable Bede. Cuthbert later became Bishop of Lindisfarne.

At some point in the early 700s the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was made probably at Lindisfarne and the artist was possibly Eadfrith, who later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. Sometime in the second half of the tenth century a monk named Aldred added an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) gloss to the Latin text, producing the earliest surviving Old English copies of the Gospels. The Gospels were illustrated in an insular style containing a fusion of Celtic, Germanic and Roman elements; they were probably originally covered with a fine metal case made by a hermit called Billfrith.

Vikings

In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne caused much consternation throughout the Christian west, and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records:

In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria. There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and on Jan. 8th the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindesfarne.

The more popularly accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is Jun. 8; Michael Swanton, editor of Routledge's edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, writes "vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (June 8) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids."

Eventually the monks fled the island (taking with them the body of St Cuthbert, which is now buried at the Cathedral in Durham). The bishopric was transferred to Durham in AD 1000. The Lindisfarne Gospels now reside in the British Library in London, somewhat to the annoyance of some Northumbrians. The priory was re-established in Norman times as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 (484 years ago) under Henry VIII.


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