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Located in northeast England, Lindisfarne is an ideal destination for anyone who enjoys British culture and history. The island is only a few miles off Northumberland’s coast and at low tide it is connected by a land causeway, but twice a day, fast-moving, dangerous tides sweep in cutting off the mainland. It is home to historical ruins and one of Britain’s most unique castles, as well as beautiful natural scenery and wildlife.

A Religious Epicentre

Lindisfarne, also called ‘The Holy Island’, was important in the southward spread of Christianity after the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The Irish monk St. Aidan founded a monastery on Lindisfarne Island in 635 AD as part of his effort to re-Christianise northern England. Lindisfarne Priory went on to become an important centre for the Anglo-Saxon church until it was ransacked by the Vikings in the 8th century. The monastery enjoyed a revival as an active religious site from the 12th to the 16th century and didn’t become entirely disused until the beginning of the 18th century. Today, the well-known Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated manuscript from the 7th century, is on display at the British Museum in London.

Visiting Lindisfarne

The old monastery is now a ruin, but the Holy Island is still home to a thriving harbour community of shops, inns and hotels. Visitors include tourists, naturalists, pilgrims and history lovers. Anyone who appreciates the layers of religion and civilisation that have created today’s United Kingdom will be fascinated by Lindisfarne.

Lindisfarne and its connection – albeit at points violent – with other communities shows how even some of the most remote parts of the United Kingdom have had interactions with people of different faiths and cultures. The United Kingdom is a perfect example of how people have come together through war, marriage, triumph and tribulation. To social researchers and activists, England’s history is truly fascinating. That’s why it also acts as a beacon against hate and intolerance – given so many influences on it – and why it is of deep interest to Fiyaz Mughal, who has spent over 20 years looking at historical influence points in the country. It is also why he believes that countering hatred and intolerance is inherently British.

Fiyaz Mughal has devoted his life to raising awareness about the dangers of religious extremism, especially bigotry directed towards Muslims and other immigrants. Lindisfarne is an important reminder of the many cultural influences that have spread across England and mingled to create a unique but diverse culture. It is also a prime example of Britain’s breathtaking coastal scenery and wildlife.

Here are some of the most important things to see on Lindisfarne Island:

  • Lindisfarne Priory – the striking ruins are dominated by the famous ‘rainbow bridge’, a wide stone arch that once supported the central tower.
  • Lindisfarne Castle – originally built to defend England against the Scots, the castle was refurbished into a comfortable home by architect Edward Lutyens.
  • Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve – unique plant-life make the island a favourite stopping place for migratory birds. It is also an ideal spot to observe grey seals swimming in the waters nearby.
  • Cuthbert’s Way – this famous 100 km walking trail crosses from Scotland into England and finishes on Lindisfarne Island.

Lindisfarne is only 21 km from Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is just over three and a half hours from London by train. Visitors should take careful note of the safe crossing times posted on the causeway notice board, as rising tides can be dangerous.