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Featured Article: Lindisfarne Priory

(CC) Photo: Tom Blackwell
The ruins of the 12th-century priory church at Lindisfarne Priory showing the "rainbow arch", the remaining arch of rib vaulting which was an original feature of the church.

Lindisfarne Priory was founded in 635 on what is now known as Holy Island, off the north-east coast of England. It was abandoned in the 9th century after repeated Viking raids, but was re-established in the 12th century. The priory was used until 1537 when it was dissolved. The ruins are now open to the public and under the care of English Heritage. Just 1.25 miles east of Northumberland's coast, Lindisfarne is a tidal island and is cut off at high tide for more than 16 hours a day.[1]


The priory complex is oriented with a church at the north end, a range of buildings aligned north–south at each end, with a refectory to the south. Together these buildings enclose a courtyard. The church dates from the second quarter of the 12th century and is the oldest standing part of Lindisfarne Priory. Next oldest is the west range, built in about 1180, which survives only to the first storey. The ground floor was probably used as storage, while the floor above could have provided accommodation. The mid 13th century saw the construction of the east range (housing sleeping quarters for the monks and perhaps a chapter house) and the refectory and kitchen to the south, enclosing the courtyard. Around 1300 a walled courtyard was created south of the refectory, effectively doubling the size of the priory. Built in the context of the Anglo-Scottish wars, this area was probably created to give extra protection to the religious community at Lindisfarne.[2]


  1. O'Sullivan, Deidre & Young, Robert (1995), English Heritage Book of Lindisfarne: Holy Island. London: B. T. Batsford and English Heritage. p. 12. ISBN 0-7134-7307-X.
  2. Story, Lindisfarne Priory, pp. 16–18, 41–42.