David's Monkish Meanderings 2010 travel blog

Durham Cathedral

Cuthbert's cross

My island home

The castle

Misty morning

Harbour and castle

Ebb tide

A place with character(s)

Viking raiders?

Abbey ruins - the 'rainbow' arch

St Mary's church

Mutual respect

Long evenings


Sir Walter Scott called it "half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot". A BBC poll in 2001 voted it Britain's most loved building. Bill Bryson voted it "best cathedral on planet Earth." The cloisters were used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies. En route to Lindisfarne I spent a couple of hours there: Durham Cathedral.

It is an impressive edifice, and along with Durham Castle dominates the Durham skyline. My particular interest, however, was in the two people buried at either end of the building: Cuthbert and Bede. Bede I've already mentioned, and he wrote much about Cuthbert (634-687) who was a key figure in the Lindisfarne story. Cuthbert was originally buried on the island, but when the Vikings came his body was taken away for safekeeping, ending up eventually at Durham where a shrine was built for him. That was replaced by the present Cathedral in the 11th C, and Cuthbert's shrine is at the far east end of the building (no photos allowed sorry).

In the Cathedral treasury there are remnants of his original coffin, and several items that were buried with him, including a beautiful pectoral cross (see photo - from a postcard!) that was probably worn by Cuthbert when he became bishop of Lindisfarne.

And Lindisfarne, or 'Holy Island', is where I am now for a week. It's good to stop and catch my breath, and to soak up the history and beauty of the island. It is actually only an island at high tide. At low tide there is a causeway which allows traffic to and from the island. It is too small to feature on the map, but it is very near Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is shown. It is not far from here to the Scottish border.

I am staying in a small flat attached to St Cuthbert's Uniting Reformed Church, which now mostly functions as a visitor's centre. There are daily services at St Mary's, a very old church associated with the Abbey whose ruins are a major feature of the landscape. Today the Abbey was the setting for a display of medieval style falconry. The other dominant feature on the landscape is the Lindisfarne Castle, a much more recent building.

I won't say too much more about the island now, but the photos hopefully give some feel for the place. More blogging in a few days' time, but for now I'm taking a rest :)

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