Welcome to the Blog of the Well Community

“The Well is a place of encounter…”

Fr Frank Green, SSM. 1997.

"The Well 'creates' community, it makes for encounter. No two people come to a well to fill their buckets without talking and, if that well be the living spirit of Christ, then the Jew talks to the Samaritan, the man to the woman, the prophet to the sinner (with a good deal of banter and laughter), the stranger and the traveller to the locals.

People find one another at the well; share gossip, laughter and deep things as they work at the rope; have time for one another; travel to and from; bring empty buckets and take them away full for the use of others in the house or wherever. Things happen at the well.

The well is the symbol of the life-giving God whom we seek. It is not 'our' well' we may be the locals, but the well is for all as God is for all - the Heart of the matter - a deep, still entry into the vast, inexhaustible, unseen source below"

Sunday, 27 April 2014

For your information, please do come and join us!




Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Pilgrimage 2014

Please see all te photgraphs and information concerning our Pilgrimage to Durham and Holy Island in July. Lots of information for fellow Pilgrims and regular updates each week.

Friday, 18 April 2014


Pilgrim images

More England to the south: Romans invaded Britain in AD43. After that, for 400 years southern Britain was part of the Roman world. The last Roman soldiers left Britain in AD 410, and then settlers came across the North Sea: Anglo-Saxons. The new settlers were a mixture of people from north Germany, Denmark and northern Holland. Most were Saxons, Angles and Jutes. There were some Franks and Frisians too. If we use the modern names for the countries they came from, the Saxons, Franks and Frisians were German-Dutch, the Angles were southern Danish, and Jutes were northern Danish.
To the north: Then Celtic history – of which the north of England and Scotland/Ireland is a part….
The northern saints are mostly associated with the Celtic period – but it’s not always clear cut – especially with Hilda supporting the south and opposing the North – a battle about Latin church and Celtic church
The Vikings came from three countries of Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The name 'Viking' comes from a language called 'Old Norse' and means 'a pirate raid'.
The Viking age in European history was about AD 700 to 1100. During this period many Vikings left Scandinavia and travelled to other countries, such as Britain and Ireland. Some went to fight and steal treasure. Others settled in new lands as farmers, craftsmen or traders.

19th c wealth
Land is perfect for coal and then later steel production
Rivers and mixture of land types and terrain
And shipbuilding – from Hull northwards the landscape is hillier and is on a topographical incline
Variously part of Scotland and England – so northeast is uniquely hybrid – in its music, its tweeds, its accents etc.
Glass is famously made from the very early days of the monastery’s life at Wearmouth
Monasteries mean education and learning
Monasteries are also tied to power and patronage
Monasteries are places of hospitality, prayer, pilgrimage, connection
Also invasion and conquests –

DATES: Holy Island has a recorded history from the 6th century. It was an important centre of Celtic Christianity under Saints Aidan, Cuthbert, Eadfrith and Eadberht.
After Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England a priory was reestablished. A small castle was built upon it in 1550.
NAME: The island of Lindisfarne appears under the Old Welsh name Medcaut in the 9th century Historia Brittonum. Following up on a suggestion by Richard Coates, Andrew Breeze proposes that the name ultimately derives from Latin Medicata [Insula] (English: Healing [Island]), owing perhaps to the island's reputation for medicinal herbs
& ROOTS…… Parker Chronicle and Peterborough Chronicle annals of AD 793 record the Old English name, Lindisfarene
The name  Holy Island was in use by the 11th century when it appears in Latin as Insula Sacra. The reference was to saints Aidan and Cuthbert.[6]
..first part: LINDIS The name Lindisfarne has an uncertain origin. The first part, Lindis, may refer to people from the Kingdom of Lindsey in modern Lincolnshire. Either regular visitors or settlers may be referred to. Alternatively the name may be from Celtic in origin, with the element Lindis- meaning "stream or pool". It is not known if this is a reference to the nearby River Low or a small lake on the island[
…second part FARNE…. Farran meaning "land", but may come from Faran, a traveller. There is also a supposition that the nearby Farne Islands are fern like in shape and the name may have come from there.[6]
GEOGRAPHY  2¼ miles from east to west and 1½ miles from north to south, and comprises approximately 1,000 acres. 2 miles from the mainland of England.. It is accessible, most times, at low-tide by crossing sand and mud flats which are covered with water at high tides. These sand and mud flats carry an ancient pilgrim’s path, and in more recent times, a modern causeway. As of 27 March 2011 the island had a population of 180.[10]
The northeast coast of England had been little settled by Roman civilians and apart from the Tyne valley and the wall, little affected during the centuries of nominal Roman occupation. The countryside had been subject to raids from both Scots and Picts and was "not one to attract early Germanic settlement. ]King Ida (reigned from 547) started the sea-borne settlement of the coast at Bamborough across the bay from Lindisfarne. The conquest was not straight forward however, the Historia Brittonum recounts how in the 6th century, Urien, prince of Rheged, besieged the Angles led by Theodoric at the island for three days and three nights.
Lindisfarne Priory
Aidan of Lindisfarne
The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded by Irish monk Saint Aidan, who had been sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald. The priory was founded before the end of 634 and Aidan remained there until his death in 651. The priory remained the only seat of a bishopric in Northumbria for nearly thirty years.[
 Finian (bishop 651–661) built a timber church "suitable for a bishop's seat"  ]St. Bede however was critical of the fact that the church was not built of stone but only of hewn oak thatched with reeds. A later bishop, Eadbert removed the thatch and covered both walls and roof in lead.[21] An abbot, who could be the bishop, was by elected by the brethren and led the community. St. Bede comments on this:
And let no one be surprised that, though we have said above that in this island of Lindisfarne, small as it is, there is found the seat of a bishop, now we say also that it is the home of an abbot and monks; for it actually is so. For one and the same dwelling-place of the servants of God holds both; and indeed all are monks. Aidan, who was the first bishop of this place, was a monk and always lived according to monastic rule together with all his followers. Hence all the bishops of that place up to the present time exercise their episcopal functions in such a way that the abbot, who they themselves have chosen by the advice of the brethren, rules the monastery; and all the priests, deacons, singers and readers and other ecclesiastical grades, together with the bishop himself, keep the monastic rule in all things.[22]
Lindisfarne became the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England and also sent a successful mission to Mercia. Monks from the Irish community of Iona settled on the island. Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later abbot of the monastery, and his miracles and life are recorded by the Venerable Bede. Cuthbert later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. An anonymous life of Cuthbert written at Lindisfarne is the oldest extant piece of English historical writing. From its reference to "Aldfrith, who now reigns peacefully" it must date to between 685 and 704.[23] He was buried here, his remains later translated[b] to Durham Cathedral (along with the relics of Saint Eadfrith of Lindisfarne). Eadberht of Lindisfarne, the next bishop (and saint) was buried in the place from which Cuthbert's body was exhumed earlier the same year when the priory was abandoned in the late 9th century.
Cuthbert's body was carried with the monks, eventually settling in Chester-le-Street before a final move to Durham. The saint's shrine was the major pilgrimage centre for much of the region until its despoliation by Henry VIII's commissioners in 1539 or 1540. The grave was preserved however and when opened in 1827 yielded a number of remarkable artefacts dating back to Lindisfarne. The inner (of three) coffins was of incised wood, the only decorated wood to survive from the period. It shows Jesus surrounded by the Four Evangelists. Within the coffin was a pectoral cross 6.4 centimetres (2.5 in) across made of gold and mounted with garnets and intricate tracery. There was a comb made of elephant ivory, a rare and expensive item in Northern England. Also was an embossed silver covered travelling altar. All were contemporary with the original burial on the island. When the body was placed in the shrine in 1104 other items were removed: a paten, scissors and a chalice of gold and onyx. Most remarkable of all was a gospel (known as the St Cuthbert Gospel or Stonyhurst Gospel from its association with the college). The manuscript is in an early, probably original, binding beautifully decorated with deeply embossed leather.[24]
Following Finian's death, Colman became Bishop of Lindisfarne. Up to this point the Northumbrian (and latterly Mercian) churches had looked to Lindisfarne as the mother church. There were significant liturgical and theological differences with the fledgling Roman party based at Canterbury. According to Stenton: "There is no trace of any intercourse between these bishops [the Mercians] and the see of Canterbury".[25] The Synod of Whitby in 663 changed this. Allegiance switched southwards to Canturbury and thence to Rome. Colman departed his see for Iona and Lindisfarne ceased to be of such major importance.
In 735 the northern ecclesiastical province of England was established with the archbishopric at York. There were only three bishops under York: Hexham, Lindisfarne and Whithorn whereas Canterbury had the twelve envisaged by St. Augustine.[26] The Diocese of York encompassed roughly the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Hexham covered County Durham and the southern part of Northumberland up to the River Coquet and eastwards into the Pennines. Whithorn covered most of Dumfries and Galloway region west of Dumfries itself. The remainder, Cumbria, northern Northumbria, Lothian and much of the Kingdom of Strathclyde formed the diocese of Lindisfarne.[27]
Lindisfarne Gospels
Main article: Lindisfarne Gospels
At some point in the early 700s the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was made probably at Lindisfarne and the artist was possibly Eadfrith, who later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. Sometime in the second half of the 10th century a monk named Aldred added an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) gloss to the Latin text, producing the earliest surviving Old English copies of the Gospels. Aldred attributed the original to Eadfrith (bishop 698–721). The Gospels were written with a good hand, but it is the illustrations done in an insular style containing a fusion of Celtic, Germanic and Roman elements that are truly outstanding. According to Aldred, Eadfrith's successor Æthelwald was responsible for pressing and binding it and then it was covered with a fine metal case made by a hermit called Billfrith.[25] The Lindisfarne Gospels now reside in the British Library in London, somewhat to the annoyance of some Northumbrians. In 1971 professor Suzanne Kaufman of Rockford, Illinois presented a facsimile copy of the Gospels to the clergy of the island.
The Ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, by Thomas Girtin, 1798. The priory's rainbow arch, which survives, is shown truncated for artistic effect.
In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne[28] [c] caused much consternation throughout the Christian west and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The D and E versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record:
Her wæron reðe forebecna cumene ofer Norðhymbra land, ⁊ þæt folc earmlic bregdon, þæt wæron ormete þodenas ⁊ ligrescas, ⁊ fyrenne dracan wæron gesewene on þam lifte fleogende. Þam tacnum sona fyligde mycel hunger, ⁊ litel æfter þam, þæs ilcan geares on .vi. Idus Ianuarii, earmlice hæþenra manna hergunc adilegode Godes cyrican in Lindisfarnaee þurh hreaflac ⁊ mansliht.[32]
In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January, the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne.
The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is in fact 8 June; Michael Swanton writes: "vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (8 June) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids."[33]
Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne's court at the time, wrote:
Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.[34]
The English seemed to turn their back on the sea as they became more settled. Many monasteries were established on islands, peninsulas, river mouths and cliffs. Isolated communities were less susceptible to interference and the politics of the heartland. The amazement of the English at the raids from the sea must have been matched by the amazement of the raiders at such (to them) vulnerable, wealthy and unarmed settlements.[35]
These preliminary raids, unsettling as they were, were not followed up. The main body of the raiders passed north around Scotland.[36] The 9th century invasions came not from Norway, but by the Danes from around the entrance to the Baltic.[36] The first Danish raids into England were in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent during 835 and from there influence spread north.[37] During this period religious art continued to flourish on Lindisfarne, at this period the Liber Vitae of Durham was started in the priory.[38]
By 866 the Danes were in York and in 873 the army was moving into Northumberland.[39] With the collapse of the Northumbrian kingdom the monks of Lindisfarne fled the island in 875 taking with them St. Cuthbert's bones (which are now buried at the cathedral in Durham).[40]
Prior to the 9th century Lindisfarne Priory had, in common with other such establishments, held large tracts of land which were managed directly or leased to farmers with a life interest only. Following the Danish occupation land was increasing owned by individuals and could be bought, sold and inherited. Following the Battle of Corbridge in 914 Ragnald seized the land giving some to his followers Scula and Onlafbal.[41]
The priory was re-established in Norman times in 1093 as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII. The standing remains date from this later priory which is not on the original site, the parish church occupies that. The whole forms a grade I listed building number 1042304.[42] The earliest parts of the site are a scheduled ancient monument number 1011650.[43]
In 1462, during the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou made an abortive attempt to seize the Northumbrian castles. Following a storm at sea 400 troops had to seek shelter on the Holy Island, where they surrendered to the Yorkists.[44]
A Dundee firm built lime kilns on Lindisfarne in the 1860s, and lime was burnt on the island until at least the end of the 19th century. The kilns are among the most complex in Northumberland. Horses carried limestone, along the Holy Island Waggonway, from a quarry on the north side of the island to the lime kilns, where it was burned with coal transported from Dundee, Scotland. There are still some traces of the jetties by which the coal was imported and the lime exported close by at the foot of the crags. The remains of the wagon way between the quarries and the kilns makes for a pleasant and easy walk. At its peak over 100 men were employed. Crinoid columnals extracted from the quarried stone and threaded into necklaces or rosaries became known as St Cuthbert's beads.
Workings on the lime kilns stopped by the start of the 20th century.[45] The lime kilns on Lindisfarne are among the few being actively preserved in Northumberland.[45]
Present day
Lindisfarne Celtic Cross
Lindisfarne Abbey and St Marys
Lindisfarne lobster pots
Lindisfarne Castle from the harbour
A Lindisfarne fisherman in 1942
The island is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Northumberland Coast. The ruined monastery is in the care of English Heritage, which also runs a museum/visitor centre nearby. The neighbouring parish church (see below) is still in use.
Lindisfarne also has the small Lindisfarne Castle, based on a Tudor fort, which was refurbished in the Arts and Crafts style by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the editor of Country Life, Edward Hudson. Lutyens also designed the island's Celtic-cross war-memorial on the Heugh. Lutyens' upturned herring buses near the foreshore provided the inspiration for Spanish architect Enric Miralles' Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.[46]
One of the most celebrated gardeners of modern times, Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932), laid out a tiny garden just north of the castle in 1911.[47] The castle, garden and nearby lime kilns are in the care of the National Trust and open to visitors.[47]
Turner, Thomas Girtin and Charles Rennie Mackintosh all painted on Holy Island.
Holy Island was considered part of the Islandshire unit along with several mainland parishes. This came under the jurisdiction of the County Palatine of Durham until the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844.
Lindisfarne was mainly a fishing community for many years, with farming and the production of lime also of some importance.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is well known for mead. In the medieval days when monks inhabited the island, it was thought that if the soul was in God's keeping, the body must be fortified with Lindisfarne Mead. The monks have long vanished, and the mead's recipe remains a secret of the family which still produces it. Lindisfarne mead is produced at St Aidan's Winery, and sold throughout the UK and elsewhere.
The isle of Lindisfarne was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the North. The Lindisfarne Gospels have also featured on television among the top few Treasures of Britain. It also features in an ITV Tyne Tees programme Diary of an Island which started on 19 April 2007 and on a DVD of the same name.
Lindisfarne seen from the mainland
St Mary the Virgin
When the abbey was rebuilt by the Normans, the site was moved. The site of the original priory church was redeveloped in stone as the parish church. As such it is now the oldest building on the island still with a roof on. Remains of the Saxon church exist as the chancel wall and arch. A Norman apse (subsequently replaced in the 13th century) led eastwards from the chancel. The nave was extended in the 12th century to the with a northern arcade, and in the following century with a southern arcade.
After the Reformation the church slipped into disrepair until the restoration of 1860. The church is built of coloured sandstone which has had the Victorian plaster removed from it. The north aisle is known as the "fishermen's aisle" and houses the altar of St. Peter. The south aisle used to hold the altar of St. Margeret of Scotland, but now houses the organ.[48]
The church is a Grade I listed building number 1042304, listed as part of the whole priory.[42] The church forms most of the earliest part of the site and is a scheduled ancient monument numer 1011650.[43]
Community Trust Fund / Holy Island Partnership
In response to the perceived lack of affordable housing on the isle of Lindisfarne, a group of islanders established a charitable foundation known as the 'Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust' in 1996. They built a visitor centre on the island using the profits from sales. In addition, eleven community houses which are rented out to community members who want to continue to stay on the island were built. The trust is also responsible for management of the inner harbour. The Holy Island Partnership was formed in 2009 by members of the community as well as organisations and groups operating on the island.
Tourists crossing Pilgrim's Way
Tourism has grown steadily throughout the 20th century, and the isle of Lindisfarne is now a popular destination for visitors to the area. Those tourists staying on the island while it is cut off by the tide can experience the island in a much quieter state, as most day trippers leave before the tide rises. At low tide it is possible to walk across the sands following an ancient route known as Pilgrims' Way. This route is marked with posts and has refuge boxes for stranded walkers, just as the road has a refuge box for those who have left their crossing too late. The isle of Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve which attracts bird-watchers to the tidal island.
Lindisfarne in culture
Sir Walter Scott wrote of the path from the island to the mainland, which is flooded twice a day by tides:
For with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shod o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandalled feet the trace.
In film
  • Lindisfarne (particularly the castle) is the setting of the Roman Polanski film Cul-de-Sac (1966) with Donald Pleasence and Lionel Stander, shot entirely on location there. The island is semi-fictionalised into "Lindisfarne Island" and the castle is "Rob Roy". There is no village. The tide rises round a car which is stuck on the causeway; also featured are the characteristic sheds made from local fishing boats, inverted and cut in half. These may still be seen on the island.
In print
  • The sack of Lindisfarne monastery by a fleet of opportunistic Vikings is a pivotal event in Charles Barnitz' historical fantasy/adventure, The Deepest Sea (1995).[49]
  • The monastery and monks of Lindisfarne are an important part of British author/broadcastor Melvyn Bragg's epic, historically based novel Credo (1996).
  • A two-part story in DC Comics' Vertigo series Northlanders, for instance, concerns the destruction on the monastery.
  • Lindesfarne is part of a quest given to Geirolf Ericsson, by his father, in the book The Last Viking (2011) by Sandra Hill.[50]
  • Department 19 (2011), a fiction book by Will Hill, concludes on Lindisfarne.[51]
  • The novel Dragon Under the Hill (1972), by former newsreader Gordon Honeycombe, is set on Holy Island.
  • The Quiet Isle, a location in the fictional series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin, has many traits resembling Lindisfarne, including tidal based access and a monastic community.
  • Lindisfarne and Holy Island were used in J.P. Moore's novel Toothless (2010) as a staging area by the Knights Templar for an attack against the Black Yew.[52]
  • Lindisfarne is known as Holy Island and the New Beginning in Brother in the Land (1984) by Robert Swindells.
  • Wells Tower's short story, "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" (2009), is centred around a Viking raid on Lindisfarne.
  • Lindisfarne is where the main character of Harry goes to on pilgrimage in the book The Kingdom by the Sea (1990) by Robert Westall. St. Cuthbert, Lindisfarne, and the Viking raid are also focal points of Westall's The Wind Eye.
  • The events in "Witch: The Road to Lindisfarne" (2012), a role-playing game by Kevin Barthaud and Richard Lacy, take place during a two-week journey from London to Lindisfarne.
In music
Aspects of the history and legends concerning Lindisfarne and the monastery have featured in the lyrics and concepts of bands, musicians and composers.
  • The 40-part choral motet Love You Big as the Sky by British composer Peter McGarr, commissioned for the Tallis Festival 2007 and subtitled "a Lindisfarne Love Song", includes poems about Lindisfarne and the detailed geography of the area, including ship wrecks and lighthouses.
  • The British folk/rock band Lindisfarne (1969–2003) was named after the island.
  • A theme which has been especially popular with metal bands of different genres and styles is the Viking invasion of AD 793. These range from heavy metal or power metal bands like Stormwarrior and Rebellion to more extreme bands such as Enslaved, Ancient Rites and Behemoth.
In television
  • Freddie Frobisher, the flatulent hermit of Lindisfarne, is featured in Blackadder the second, episode Beer.
  • The final episode of second series of the TV series Cold Feet was filmed in Lindisfarne Castle.[53]
  • In season 1, episode 2 of Vikings ("Wrath of the Northmen"), the semi-legendary Ragnar Lodbrok organises and leads the 793 attack on the priory by a small band of Vikings who head west, arrive on the shores of Lindisfarne, and shortly thereafter conduct the raid.
  • Episode 5 of the first series of Wolfblood ("Occam's Razor") takes place on Lindisfarne Island.
In other uses