Acca had no direct contact with Lindisfarne, but was an important church leader in the age of Bede. We first hear of him as a young man in the household of Bosa, Bishop of York, who himself had been educated under St. Hild at Whitby. As a friend of St. Wilfrid Acca acompanied him on some of his travels, and was with Wilfrid when the latter received the 'warning', presumably a stroke, that he had just another four years to live. Subsequently Acca became Bishop of Hexham.
Acca was a highly educated and scholarly man, who encouraged these gifts in others. He was a close friend of Bede, who dedicated several books to him. He was sensitive to all forms of beauty and of art. He gathered paintings to adorn his church and employed a famous singing master from Canterbury to train his musicians. He also gathered relics from many places, and collected a notable library: Bede, who knew a good library when he saw one, calls it 'large and most noble'.
It is good, from that very violent age, to read of lives that are like an oasis of peace. Acca left Hexham in 732, and we lose sight of him then.
He died in 740 and was buried at Hexham, where one of the pillars placed on his tomb survives.
38. ETHILWALD (or AETHELWALD or OETHELWALD)
Ethilwald was a hermit who died in 699. In his early life he had been a monk and then a priest at Ripon, but he must have had close connections with Lindisfarne as, on the death of Cuthbert, he moved into the hermitage on the Inner Fame.
He found it in ruinous condition: cracks and holes in the walls allowed the stormy winds to blow right through. Cuthbert had had a mind above such things: all he had done was to take some straw or clay to stuff up the cracks. But Ethilwald asked the brothers who visited him to bring a calfskin, which he fixed in the corner where he usually prayed. Anyone who has experienced our famous winds will understand!
He is also credited with calming a storm. Three of the Lindisfarne brothers had come to visit him on a day which was quite calm when they set out.But as they left such a fierce storm blew up that they could neither get home nor get back to the Fame island. But they could see Ethilwald, who had come out of the hermitage. He prayed, and the storm calmed just enough for them to reach home, before becoming ferocious again for the rest of the day. Bede says he got that story from one of the three, Guthfrith, who later was Abbot of Lindisfarne.
Ethilwald was a hermit for 12 years and died on the Inner Fame. The Lindisfarne community buried him in the church of St.Peter, next to Cuthbert and Eadbert. When they left the island in 875 his relics were put into St. Cuthbert's coffin, and so his bones found their final resting-place at Durham.