In this series I’ll be looking at places I’ve visited and what meaning they have had for me or my stories, what inspiration I’ve drawn from them or what strange link I have in my head between these places and some of my characters. I’ll be looking at Paris, Corfu, France (including the Pyrenees), Scotland, Lanzarote, Lapland and more! So keep reading for some entertaining rambling and some lovely pictures! (And if you’re here from my Youtube video say Hi in the comments below.)
This week I’m going to talk about Lindisfarne.
What I knew about the place?
To be blunt: Absolutely nothing, had never heard of it. However having visited it, I was glad I went.
Lindisfarne is a tidal island situated off the northeast coast of England, with a population of some 180 people and has historically been the sight of a monastery. Lindisfarne is called the Holy Island of Lindisfarne or sometimes simply Holy Island because it has been an important early Christian site since the 7th Century AD and after Viking invasion and Norman conquest a priory was re-established alongside a small castle in 1550. The monastery for which the island is famous was founded by Saint Aidan, an Irish monk sent from Iona (off the west coast of Scotland), in 634. Saint Aidan remained there until his death in 651.
It was mostly likely chosen for its remote location and it’s connection to the main land which is dependent on the tide. At high tide Lindisfarne becomes an island completely cut off from the rest of England but at low-tide it is connected to the land and to this day people can cross the sand and mud flats in one of two ways, either by following the ancient Pilgrims’ Path or a modern causeway suitable for cars.
Lindisfarne is surrounded by the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve keeping its dunes and wildlife safe and when I visited (the second time) I saw seals out by the castle!
While the priory is no longer in use a church parish remains operational and tourists often the ruins of the Priory, the church and the castle as well as visit the numerous small cafes, gift shops, museums and meaderies dotted across the island.
Lindisfarne is also well known for its mead and several brands are sold on the island.
What I thought when I was there?
I actually really liked it. It’s remoteness and bleakness is very inspiring to me, I love that sense of weather battered coasts, old ruins, churches and castles so if found Lindisfarne pretty cool for all those reasons. I loved the idea of the causeway too although both times I went I didn’t get to walk it. I got to go in to the castle which was fun but I couldn’t afford museum or the tour of the ruins either time so instead I wandered around what was accessible.
There are gift shops and cafes on the island both of which are very welcome when the wind blows off the sea or it rains as it gets very cold (you can see in the slides above the difference between when I went when it was sunny and when I went and it was cloudy/rainy).
As I mentioned before they brew mead there and there are a couple of different brands being sold there. I don’t drink now (for several reasons) but mead is probably the only alcohol I actually miss the taste of. It really is a delicious and beautiful drink with its rich amber colour. If you visit and can/want to drink certainly go and try some out.
I also loved the castle’s dramatic location and was the inspiration for a location in one of my stories (more below).
All in all, despite the at times extreme cold (and the shivering that came with it) I loved the feel of the place.
What impact did it leave on me/my characters? Did it inspire anything?
I’d say the castle probably had the most direct impact on a story as it’s become the inspiration for one of my castles. It really helped me visualise a small castle perched on a rock with wilderness all around it though the story location is actually different. (In the book the castle isn’t on an island but facing the sea and surrounded by forest instead). It serves as a visual I can go back to in order to jolt my imagination when writing my story to remind myself of that feeling of bleakness, of wilderness and of this small bastion against the elements.
I also love these places for the sense of history and, if you’ve been following these posts for a few weeks, you’ll have figured out I like architecture of all sorts so this was great for that.
I would like to go back one day with money and see museum and ruins.