Lindisfarne: England’s Holy Island and its Viking history

LindisfarneWhen the Vikings landed on Lindisfarne (www.lindisfarne.org.uk/) in 793, they changed the course of English history forever.

Also known as Holy Island, Lindisfarne, which measures slightly more than a mile in length and just over two miles in width, nestles just off the Northumberland coast of England near the border of Scotland. By day strong tides from the mainland separate Lindisfarne and turn it into the sort of romantic destination curious travelers seek to satisfy their wanderlust spirit. It’s a place that must be pursued rather than arrive in as a result of a happy accident.

When the monastery was at its peak, Holy Island was, and remains today, known for its mead. Lindisfarne’s ancient grog was said to fortify the body for doing God’s work. The secret recipe is closely guarded by family at St. Aidan’s Winery, which still produces the drink and distributes it throughout the UK.

Once there, however, Lindisfarne is a medieval delight with its pastoral sheep-laden settings, ancient ruins, hilltop castle and quaint village shops and cafes. Among the most popular delicacies are the crab sandwiches, for which local diners also slog their way to the island to enjoy.

The priory, now a ruin after much of it was pillaged to create the castle, was founded by the Irish monk St. Aiden in 635. For nearly 150 years it was a Christian base in northern England and a refuge of sublime isolation until the Vikings arrived with their fierce warring bands of marauders.

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