This weekend we drove to Holy Island, we had heard that the there would be Vikings at Lindsifarne Priory. This sounded like something we had to see, even though it could be rather dangerous. Holy Island was a centre of Celtic Christianity. A priory was established on the island in the 600’s and the Lindisfarne gospels were written here. There is also a castle on the island.
Holy Island is situated on the Northumberland coast. It can only be reached when the tide is out, you have to drive along a causeway which gets covered up at high tide. It is recommended that you check the tide times before you go. Every year there are stories on the news about people getting stranded on the causeway and needing rescue. There are prominent warning signs as you approach telling you to turn back if the water has reached the road.
There is also a pedestrian route which is marked by large wooden poles, although I would not like to walk. I would be worried about the sea coming in.
When you get across the causeway to Holy Island there is a large visitor carpark. Parking was £4.40 for the day or £2.40 for three hours. You have to walk on the island, only residents are allowed to drive. If you want to visit the castle there is a shuttle bus available but Lindisfarne Priory is within walking distance. The Priory is beside a modern church and you get new graves mixed in with the ancient stones which is unusual.
The spectacular arches of Lindisfarne Priory towered above us as we entered the priory which had been transformed into a Viking camp.
The area was a hive of activity with tents everywhere and people demonstrating how the Vikings used to live. It was fascinating. I loved these tapestries that the lady was doing, they put me in mind of the Bayeux tapestry which would have been done much later.
My son was fascinated as the weapons that were used at the time were shown and the guy doing the demonstration was very enthusiastic. There were lots of different weapons from swords to great axes which had different uses depending on the situation. He also showed us how the helmet design had changed and adapted over the years which was fascinating.
There were demonstrations of arrow making
I was quite surprised to find that the Vikings had rather luxurious looking beds. They obviously had very comfortable homes.
A day with the Vikings has to involve Viking raids and at the far end of the priory different events were being re-enacted. We watched the re-enactment of the Viking raid of 793 where the monks living in peace in the priory were attacked by the Vikings. It was good fun and a great way of bringing history to life.
You can find information about Lindisfarne Priory and also English Heritage events that might be happening near you on the English Heritage website.
Disclosure: I had been sent a pass which allowed me to enter the event. I was not told what to write and my opinions are my own.