I have finally resigned myself to the fact that we’re not going to be able to visit many of the places I’d wanted to go while we were living here, as we need to stop spending and start saving money for home leave. Some destinations are easier to let go of than others. Others like Lindisfarne and Hadrian’s Wall I’m very disappointed about because I’ve wanted to see them for years.

Lindisfarne is a small holy island off the northeast coast of England near Berwick-upon-Tweed. It is famous for its ruined monastery and castle. The monastery was set up by an Irish monk named St. Aidan in 634, and the monks there produced amazing illuminated manuscripts similar to the Book of Kells. I just found out last week that the Lindisfarne Gospels with their jeweled cover are actually on display at the British Library. So I can at least go see that! (All the photos below were borrowed from around the internet.)

Jeweled cover of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Jeweled cover of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Page detail.

Page detail.

The other reason that Lindisfarne is so well known is because it was the first place attacked by the Vikings in 793, and that event is considered to be the beginning of the Viking Age.

he ruins of Lindisfarne Priory.

The ruins of Lindisfarne Priory.

Lindisfarne Castle was built in the 1600s on top of a little hill on the island and looks very similar to Mont St. Michel in France or the similarly named St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. It was briefly occupied by Jacobite rebels in the 1700s, and in 1901 it became a family home. Since then it’s been used in many films including as the site of Mont Saint Pierre in the 1982 film The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellen, which was one of my favorites growing up!

Lindisfarne Castle.

Lindisfarne Castle.

About an hour south of Lindisfarne is Hadrian’s Wall. The wall was built by the Romans in AD 122 under Emperor Hadrian to separate the mostly conquered southern half of Britain from the still wild and crazy northern tribes. It’s 80 Roman miles (73 mi) long and stretches from the west coast to the east coast.

In some places it’s 10 feet wide and 20 feet high, in others it’s 20 feet wide and 11 feet high depending on what local material was available for building, ie. stone versus turf. The whole thing was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is a very popular tourist destination complete with Roman battle reenactments.

Hadrian's Wall at Walltown Crags.

Hadrian’s Wall at Walltown Crags.

I suppose we can come back and visit when our son’s a little older. But in my experience, you don’t always get a second chance. So I haven’t given up on the sites completely. Lindisfarne is about a 5-hour train ride or a 7-hour drive north of London, which is a solid commitment. But we shall see!

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