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You may find this relevant information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

After the Romans left Britain, there began a series of invasions from Northern Europe. The middle and east of Britain was settled by a Germanic tribe known as the Angles whilst south Britain was conquered by the Saxons. The merging of two Angle kingdoms in the early 7th century (Bernicia and Deira) led to the creation of a new Kingdom with its capital at Bamburgh. It stretched from Hull to Edinburgh and was named "Northumbria" - the land north of the River Humber. The kingdom was soon acknowledged as the most important of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, (the 7 English kingdom's of that time).

After King Oswald of Northumbria won the battle of Heavenfield, he invited the Christian monks of Iona to establish a Priory on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which they did in 635 AD. The Priory became one of the most important seats of Christian learning in Western Europe, its greatest bishop being St Cuthbert. After Cuthbert's death in 696AD, the Priory produced possibly the 7th century's greatest work of art, the beautiful Lindisfarne Gospels, now housed in the British Library. A "Turning the Pages" computer-based version of the Gospels can be seen at the Lindisfarne Heritage Centre and at the Woodhorn Colliery Museum in Ashington. You may also wish to visit the North East Museums, Libraries, & Archives Council website which has useful information and images of the Gospels to download

Sites from the golden age of Northumbria and other Christian heritage attractions in Northumberland and the surrounding area include:

Heavenfield Battlefield

Off the B6318, 4 miles north of Hexham. The site of the battle in 635AD where King Oswald defeated Cadwallon of Gwynedd (North Wales) to restore the Kingdom of Northumbria to its dominant position in 7th century Britain. It is marked by a wooden roadside cross beside which there is a good interpretation panel telling the story of the battle. The little church of St Oswald, 100 yards from the cross, was rebuilt in 1737 and is now a site of pilgrimage. Between the cross and the church is the line of Hadrian's Wall which was still standing at the time of the battle. It is strange but true that Heavenfield is the only known battle involving Hadrian's Wall, although the Romans had left Britain some 200 years previously.

Lindisfarne Priory

Holy Island. Reached only across a causeway at low tide so you will need to check the Tide Timetables before your visit. Nothing remains of the original monastery which was founded in the 7th century by St Aidan. Following its destruction by the Vikings in 793, it was 400 years before Lindisfarne was re-established as a Benedictine priory. This new priory was itself destroyed by Henry VIII in the 16th century and the stones were used to build Lindisfarne Castle. The dramatic "rainbow arch" over the nave of the priory still stands. The excellent Visitor Centre explains how the monks used to live on this wind-swept island. A selection of books and celtic jewellery is also on sale. Outside, the statue of St Aiden is a popular subject for visitors' photographs. Open (2003): Daily, all year, April - September 10:00am - 6:00pm, October10:00am - 5:00pm, November - March 10:00 - 4:00pm. Adults: 3.00 (2003). Tel: +44 (0)1289 - 389200. Partially accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. For more details about the Priory, please see English Heritage.
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John Haswell, 2 Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 1HT
Tel: 01289 304492    Mob: 07866 094097   john.haswell1955@gmail.com   john@oilmilllane.co.uk