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Lindisfarne Castle, with Bamburgh Castle in the distance to the right
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Lindisfarne Castle from the west
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Lindisfarne Castle pictured

From Tudor fortress to Edwardian retreat, Lindisfarne Castle is a dramatic landmark for land and sea. Perched on its pinnacle of rock, it commands intervisibility with Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands, the Heugh and Lindisfarne Priory and all the coastal waters around Holy Island.

On my previous trip to Lindisfarne, I never got to visit this location.

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Lindisfarne Castle from the east

While there is nothing early medieval to see, and the foundations and presence of the castle will have obliterated earlier traces, there is no doubt in my mind that this would have been a key component of the Anglo-Saxon monastic landscape and seascape.

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Views from the castle across the harbour to the Heugh and priory

I went around the interior and found it pokey. Clearly, even before the castle’s building, this was a very restricted space. It was difficult to muster enthusiasm for the mock Victorian and Edwardian fittings. Lindisfarne Castle is all about location however, about looking out, not in.

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The Farne Islands and Bamburgh Castle from Lindisfarne Castle

I really went to visit the dramatic location and to imagine what kind of lookout post, beacon, chapel or monument might have furnished this rock outcrop during the early medieval period…

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Tobias en route to the castle
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Lindisfarne Castle and the priory ruins

Without clear evidence for an early medieval presence on this location, what more can we say about Lindisfarne Castle’s prehistory as a place of memory? Even if (for sake of argument) there had been no human-made feature or habitation adorning this spot, I suspect the pinnacle of rock alone would have been a prominent feature, drawn into the memory of maritime navigators and those inhabiting the coasts and islands close by. I hope my photographs speak for themselves, giving a sense of how people today traverse the road from the settlement and priory to the castle along the coast, and how the site interacts with its surroundings.

 

 

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