Monday, March 22, 2010

Lindisfarne Abbey

OSWALD, King of Northumbria, gave to Bishop Aidan, a monk of Iona, and a man noted for his piety, the island of Lindisfarne, and from the sanctity of the opposite monastery and the monks it obtained the name of Holy Island.
The island is separated from the mainland by a narrow neck of sand which can be crossed on foot at low water.

"For, with its flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry-shod, o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day, the waves efface
Of staves and sandalled feet the trace."
The castle is of great antiquity. From its summit may be seen, at seven miles, distance southward, the romantic rocks on which stands Bamborough Castle.
The abbey, an extensive and beautiful ruin, stands on the mainland at the extremity of the sandy track that leads to Holy Island.

Lindisfarne Abbey
St. Cuthbert was at one time Bishop of Lindisfarne, and a strange superstition respecting him is not even yet quite forgotten there. It is, that on dark and gloomy nights, when the waves rose high and the wind roared, the spirit of St. Cuthbert sat on a fragment of rock on the shore of Holy Island, veiled in the sea-mist, and forged beads for the faithful. The sound of his hammering was heard through the storm, and on the shore next day numbers of the beads were sure to be found. They are sometimes seen now, and are in reality the fossil remains of sea animals called crinoids - ancient dwellers in the deep. Scott tells us:

"On a rock by Lindisfarne,
St. Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame
The sea-born beads that bear his name
Such tales had Whitby's fishers told,
And said they might his shape behold,
And hear his anvil sound;
A deafening clang, - a huge, dim form,
Seen but, and heard, when gathering storm
And night were closing round."

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