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Sunday 19th August 2001, Northumbria

Lindsifarne THERE'S A MIST along the coast from Tranent to Berwick, so unfortunately we don't get the glimpses of the sea that this stretch of the A1 has to offer. South of the border, between showers, we see the Holy Island of Lindisfarne shrouded in mist and cut off by the tide. Even glimpsed briefly from this trunk road, or from the East Coast mainline, it'Eider duckss easy to appreciate the comparative remoteness and wild spirit of the place. It attracted the Celtic Saint Cuthbert (634/5 - 687) who was Prior, and later Bishop, at the abbey on the island. He was an early conservationist and it is recorded that he befriended the otters and eider ducks. While living as a hermit on Inner Farne, he successfully protected the eiders, which are sometimes known as St Cuthbert's Ducks.

The Golden Age of Northumbria

On the 15th November 655 King Penda of Mercia, the last pagan English king, was killed in the Battle of Winwaed, which may have been fought in Lothian, or in Yorkshire, either close to present-day Leeds or near Ackworth. For the victor, King Oswy (or Oswui), this marked the start of a 'golden age' in his kingdom of Northumbria. Oswy had been brought up in the Celtic form of Christianity, on the Isle of Iona.

The illuminated manuscript of Lindisfarne Gospels was probably made for Eadfrith, Bishop of the island from 698 to 721. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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