Today, Lindisfarne is seen as a remote island that can only be reached at low tide, but 1400 years ago it was one of the busiest, best connected, and most densely populated places in England.
In AD 635, King Oswald founded a small monastery here, and from humble beginnings, it quickly grew to become the religious powerhouse at the heart of his Northumbrian kingdom.
Within 150 years, the island’s religious community controlled huge swathes of land, produced glittering treasures to adorn the churches of Europe, and played host to the thousands of miracle-seeking pilgrims who came to see the relics of the famous Lindisfarne saints; Aidan, Cuthbert and Finan. Its position just across the water from Bamburgh Castle put it close to many popular sea-lanes, which meant Lindisfarne had direct connections with the great power-centres of Anglo-Saxon England, and with Continental Europe.
But its spectacular coastal position and uncontested wealth were also its greatest weaknesses; in AD 793 it became one of the first communities in Britain to be raided by the Vikings. The attack was brutal, bloody and followed by many more over the next hundred or so years.