Lindisfarne Priory is the official end of St Cuthbert’s trail so we went to have a look shortly after we arrived on Holy Island. These days the ruins are cared for English Heritage who have a small museum telling the history of the site and putting it into context.
This structure didn’t exist at the time of St Cuthbert. The original Celtic Christian Monastery was abandoned in 875 following the Viking raids. These are the ruins of the Norman Monastery that was founded in the 12th Century., the church being constructed around 1150. Consequently it was a Romanesque building and was modelled on Dirham cathedral.
The Priory was closed in 1537 during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and, as was generally the case, the buildings were used as a “quarry” . Stone from the Priory is known to have been used during the construction of LIndisfarne Castle, for example.
Although you can get a good look at the buildings from St Mary’s churchyard, the adjacent field and from on top of the Heugh, we paid our entry fee that allowed us to get close up to the ruins and allowed entry into the museum.
We entered from St Mary’s churchyard through the West Front
This is the West Front, seen from the inside. Typically Romanesque with it’s rounded arches and thick masonry. It was originally flanked by two towers; there are substantial remnants of one of them
Battlements and cross-shaped arrowloops were added in the mid-14th century when the whole priory was fortified in response to the outbreak of war with the Scots.
This is the north aisle of the Nave. The rounded arches are supported by massive piers, very typical of Romanesque churches. They’re decorated in a style similar to some of the later piers in Durham Cathedral.
A view from the east of the end of the nave
This is the “rainbow arch”, a surviving rib from the Crossing where the main tower of the church would have stood.
These are the remains of the Presbytery at the east end of the church. It was rebuilt in a more Gothic style with large windows pointed arches and exterior buttresses supporting the walls.
There are only limited remains of the monks’ living quarters to the south of the church. It wasn’t a large community.
This bronze sculpture of St Cuthbert, which stands at the south end of the site, was created by Durham born sculptor, Fenwick Lawson