• A bit from me...
  • Holy Island Archives
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • The island through new eyes
  • Shorebird season: our first little tern egg.
  • AONB launches written word competition
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • St Mary's notices
  • Love the World
Notice Board dedicated to
"Foster Wells"
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

Welcome, to our newsletter and for those new to us a reminder that we do not publish an August issue.

Much of the south and west of England have been experiencing record temperatures. Indeed, it is world news that north-western fire services are fighting a major fire on 'Saddleworth Moor'. This is located between Lancashire and Yorkshire to the west of the Pennines. The region includes the famous 'Bronte Country' made famous by the Bronte authoresses - sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to those living in the area and our gratitude to the fire brigade and those called upon to assist.

At the start of the heat wave, fortunately, local topography, the cold North Sea and weather effects in our coastal area played their part in keeping us a few degrees cooler. Then, as mainland temperatures began to soar, tens of thousands will remember their experience of halcyon skies and pleasant cooling breezes. If you did visit you will no doubt have witnessed the hard work done at 'St Comb's Farm' by their luscious displays of Holy-Island produce at the roadside. Well done Alison, Nass and all the family.

St Mary's Parish Church: the interregnum goes on. Completed on time, our Parish Profile is now submitted to our Bishop and is a key milestone in the process of selection of the new 'Vicar of Holy Island. We are indebted to the Archdeacon for the provision of Locums. We are grateful for the help of our Area Dean who keeps us 'on the straight and narrow'. We are particularly thankful for our churchwardens who by their dedication and hard work ensure that the church remains open that visitors might share in our worship.

The 'Dig on the Heugh' : We are delighted that the archaeological exploration has resumed on the Heugh. There is evidence of several new excavations and we wait with baited breath to discover any outcomes. Well done, Holy Island Trust/ Peregrini/HLF, for enabling this to continue. Do try to keep us informed?  

The Old Lifeboat Station, The Coastguard Tower and The Window on Lindisfarne: A big THANK YOU to the volunteers from the Holy Island Development Trust whose efforts ensure the daily openings of these community facilities.

The Holy Island Parish Council: Those passing the village hall (Crossman Hall) may notice that our notice board has been refurbished and also been re-sited - see the above (top) picture. Over 20 years ago the board was dedicated to 'Foster Wells'. Thank you to his son 'Rick Wells' who arranged for this.

The Great Wall Challenge: Congratulations to Jenny Moffitt who participated in the 24-hour(!) 69-mile run from Carlisle to Newcastle on 16th June. Whilst 600 runners took part, many dropped out along the way. Jenny would like to thank all who sponsored her and is delighted to report that a magnificent 2500 has so far been achieved. Proceeds raised from the run hours go towards Hydropool for the special needs school where Jenny teaches in Northumberland.

Our apologies to a myriad of our Christian subscribers as we are again without 'our man' at St Mary's and nor does St Cuthbert's have a voice this month. Ecclesiastical protocol inhibits asking for the support of previous priests or locums. By good fortune, whilst looking into this I discovered long-retired vicar of Holy Island, David Adam, is about to publish a new book. Available later in the month, I am delighted to promote it later in the newsletter.

Normally writing through his role as 'Clerk to the Parish Council', This month, John Bevan invites contributions towards 'Holy Island Archive' from today's islanders as well as those related and those who might have previously lived here. John is 'Editor, Holy Island Section'. Newcomer, Ceris Aston, who writes on behalf of Annie Ivison of Natural England; we have an all-ages 'writing competition' from our local AONB; Ian Kerr looks at our birding through 'new eyes'; David has oodles of information on our village hall and coming events; Nick brings news of the birth of his son and who also brings us up-to-date with things at Lindisfarne Castle; Elspeth informs of the vast range of events at nearby 'Ford and Etal Estates'; finally Ray reminds us of the late Revd Michael Burden who lived with us here for many years following retirement from Vicar of  'Holy Trinity Church' - across the water in Berwick's-upon-Tweed.

Thank you to all these authors and to those of you who have taken the time to write to us. Enjoy the summer recess and we look forward to getting in touch again in September.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)



The Reading Room is currently being upgraded to incorporate an Archive Room in addition to its traditional function. The work will be completed this summer and further information will be available then.

Alongside this project an On-Line Archive is also being created with the intention of making available a wide range of information concerning the Island and the history of its community and of the adjoining mainland.

The site is due to go live by the end of June and can be accessed at where the very first articles can be seen. These will be added to on a regular basis in the future and to help to build up the Archive we welcome contributions from Islanders and friends of the Island who may have interesting facts of their lives, their visits to and memories of the Island and who may have photographs they are prepared to share with the Archive.

For more information on how to contribute information email

John Bevan
Editor Holy Island Section


The Island has always attracted a wide and varied range of visitors from the man in the street, to more well-known personages. I was away and saw the devastating fire destroyed much of the Glasgow School of Art on TV News. The iconic Mackintosh designed School of Art was in the final stage of restoration following an earlier fire and now what will happen.

The fire reminded me that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a regular visitor to the Island during the early 1900's, attracted by the flamboyant flora and stark buildings. He enjoyed painting and sketching in the relaxing atmosphere and when he married Margaret MacDonald, he spent his honeymoon here.

The late Enric Miralles Spanish architect and designer, a long term aficionado of Charles Rennie Mackintosh visited the Island on several occasions, the first when as a teenager living in Edinburgh learning English. He re-visited the Island when shortlisted to submit a design for the Scottish Parliament and he found inspiration in the upturned fishing boat sheds around the harbour. His design for the Scottish Parliament went on to win the competition and those visiting the Parliament today will clearly see the influence of the Island fishing boats featured in the building at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. 

Final Stage of the Project

This month I resolved outstanding residual payment due to our Quantity Surveyors and ensured that funds had been set-aside by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) to meet payment(s) for the Projects final stage, the installation of the rainwater drain across the Winery Car Park to connect into the main sewer.

Costs have been agreed with our Contractor and the job authorised; the installation of the rainwater drain across Winery land to connect with the sewer and restore the excavated ground. This work should be completed by end of July and will see at long last the completion of what has been a long lasting village project.

The Melville Walker Room

Please do not forget, we need photographs of Mel to display in the room dedicated to his memory. All chosen photos will be copied and returned to their owners.

Forthcoming Events

Please remember that our Coffee Morning for the 'Cancer Car service' will be held on 2 August. Bric-a-brac, raffles prizes, tombola awards, all the usual paraphernalia is much needed for this transport support group.

The Berwick based registered Charity provides much needed car transport for Cancer patients to and from their treatment Departments on Tyneside and in the Borders. Please help by providing sale items, attending the event and/or making a donation.

David O'


First of all I must apologise in advance for what will be a shorter than normal update from the Castle due to the fact I have been off for the last couple of weeks and am a little bit out of the loop. Happily my absence was for a good reason; in the early hours of 31 May my wife gave birth to our second son, Fraser (8lb 9oz if you're interested) and so as you can imagine my attentions have been elsewhere recently. That apology also applies to anyone who has tried to contact me in the last few weeks!

Anyway, in terms of what is going on up here we are now in the final throes of the project work. Drainage trenches have been backfilled and finished with flagstones, leadwork on the roof is complete, and the lime-washing outside is almost done. This means that as I type on the 22nd June, next Monday 25th the scaffolding will finally start coming down. This will be a long process so photographers shouldn't get too excited just yet, but the first thing to do is to get the temporary roof off and the structure that supports it. Visually this will have a major impact as the western part of the building will become visible again, but the biggest part of the job will follow this in early July when the vast north scaffold begins to come down. We think barring any weather delays this should all be down by the middle/end of August and the site clear by the end of August.

Inside the Castle the Anya Gallaccio exhibition is in full swing and has certainly got people talking - as you may have seen on the local news recently (I did, while changing nappies). Although not everyone has come away feeling positive about the work, we are still getting nice comments about the installation from visitors. We have tweaked a few things recently to improve the way the installation works in the Castle - such as showing a film about the work early in the visit and having more information on display about the project work.

I will try to have a fuller update for you next month as the scaffold starts coming down on the north side, and by the time we speak again after that (given there is no issue of this magazine in August) we might just be back to relative normality!

Best wishes
Lindisfarne Castle @NTLindisfarne
01289 389244 (press 1, then 1903)


It's always fascinating to see our island and Northumberland in general through new eyes or rather, in our case, eyes which haven't seen it for decades.

Hazel, Michael and I had such an opportunity recently when we were visited by an old bird-watching friend who has spent more than 40 years living in Australia. He was back in Britain with his partner, a first-time visitor, to catch up with family and friends and to take the chance of paying nostalgic visits to some of his youthful haunts. These including the island, Seahouses,  Morpeth, Tynemouth, Druridge Bay and the various valleys and hills of the Cheviots.

After 21 days of continuous sunshine, something that rather amazed them both coming from a land renowned for its heat and sun, they chose a grey and rather chilly day to visit the island. But that didn't matter at all and after a very pleasant lunch at the Crown & Anchor they wanted a quick look around the village, Heugh and beach.

My friend's first impression was that the place was so crowded. It was a far cry from his youthful visits while at Newcastle University when he recalled staying at various village bed and breakfast spots which are now long gone.  Then, he recalled, the village was a decidedly quiet spot.

I wondered if our local birds might just seem a little tame and dull for someone who had become used to Australia's vast range of exotic and colourful species, particularly the parrots. But I needn't have worried. He was delighted to catch up with Sandwich Terns around St Cuthbert's Island and Dunlin and Ringed Plover at the beach, all of them bringing memories flooding back and so different from the eastern and Pacific species he normally sees.

The previous day they'd visited an old university friend in Wooler and had walked in local valleys which were in their fresh and green late spring best. They were also filled with the songs of summer warblers. He was particularly surprised by the numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs compared with the situation he remembered from his younger days.

He did wonder if this was a case of a dodgy memory. It wasn't.  The numbers of both these delightful summer species have certainly gone up spectacularly in the decades he'd been away. Studies and survey work has shown that Blackcap numbers have more than doubled in the intervening period while many more Chiffchaffs are also now breeding. 

Further south, they'd been fascinated to watch Avocets breeding at Cresswell Pond. When he left Britain they were still a national rarity and confined to a few heavily protected breeding sites in Norfolk and Suffolk. Now they are an annual breeder and are gradually spreading northwards towards us. Breeding commenced in Cleveland and County Durham around 2007 and at Cresswell in 2011. They are now fairly regular visitors to Budle Bay so perhaps one day fairly soon we'll see them at the Rocket Field.

Elegant Avocets: these graceful birds are rapidly spreading northwards and could be with us fairly soon.
Picture: Mike S Hodgson

Equally as fascinating, was to see the island through the eyes of his partner. It turned out that she's a very talented, if modest, artist. She was persuaded, a bit reluctantly, to show us example of her work on her tablet.  These included spectacularly brilliant Australian skies and vivid green and brown landscapes which seemed so real we could almost feel the sun and scorched air.

Around the village she was particularly fascinated with the cobblestones in Fenkle Street and the different colours of stone on many of the older buildings. She was also fascinated to look around St Mary's church and soak up some of its long history.

It's salutary to think that there was a church there for at least 700 years before Europeans had even discovered her home country. As for those many and varied stones, some would have been collected from the shore and put to good use when the suspected southern continent was simply referred to by the Latin term of terra incognita.  I gather that came about because the early explorers and geographers believed that continents of the northern hemisphere must be balanced by similar land masses in the southern hemisphere. Captain Cook was eventually to prove them correct.

While we walked around the church and village she took many photographs. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are used for forthcoming work from her paints.  Catching up with their family news and gossip made for a very enjoyable day. It also reinforced to us what a very special place the island is and the lasting effect it has on visitors even if they have been away for decades.


Shorebird season:
our first little tern egg

As wedding bells pealed in Windsor, and millions of people around the world watched the royal wedding on May 19th, the wardens at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve were celebrating quite different news - our first little tern egg of the year. Quietly, with no fanfare: one small speckled egg.

If we'd had flags we'd have waved them - it's what we've been hoping, and working, for since long before the beginning of shorebird season. Preparation and planning is year around, and in April staff and volunteers set out laden with fence posts, coils of rope and a heavy mell hammer in order to fence off safe areas for the birds - as well as coils of plastic predator-proof netting to encircle potential nesting sites. Where to put them? Well... who can predict the ways of terns, but based on knowledge of their habits and the evidence of previous years, we fenced off five areas across the reserve, the mell becoming heavier with each post that we drove into the sand.

Little terns are the UK's second rarest nesting seabird and Britain's smallest seabird - delicately built, agile and very sweet. Despite their size, they migrate thousands of miles each year - all the way from West Africa to the Northumberland Coast. I'd never seen one except in photographs. You'll love them, I was told. But where were they? We'd expected them at the beginning of May yet this brought only a couple of pairs to the reserve. Everything was ready... but the terns were late. Days passed. Where we had expected flapping, squeaking busyness, there was only silence and stillness. We began to wonder - would they come at all? What had happened, so far away?

Then news - on Twitter, appropriately enough - from the south: they're on their way. Sussex had started to see their terns arrive. A message of hope for the north - and gradually, finally, they arrived, squeaking like rubber balls and dipping into the surface of the sea for fish. We still didn't know what had delayed them, but they were here - and, we hoped, ready to mate. What's the tern equivalent to mood lighting and Marvin Gaye? we wondered. Their late arrival meant there wasn't much time... time to break out the really good sand eels.

In the meantime, shorebird wardens were watching the sites - watching, waiting, and commiserating with those whose walks were cut shorter by the fenced off areas. The little terns are a Schedule 1 species, meaning it is a criminal offence to disturb them. Sadly there are many hazards for a species that lays its eggs in small scrapes in the sand - including, but not limited to crows, gulls, kestrels, foxes, humans, dogs off leads, high winds, high tides, and their own sometimes poor sense in choosing nesting spots. After the joy of our first egg, the fear (I wonder: is this what parenthood feels like?). They are so very vulnerable. Yet these brave little birds return, year on year. And we do what we can to help.

Yet every intervention is a gamble - putting up the predator-proof netting runs the risk of treading on scrapes or eggs, causing the birds to lose their bearings, or simply leading them to abandon the site. We move swiftly and carefully to complete the tasks - normally barefoot. Every now and then a sharp blade of the marram grass on the dunes prompts an exclamation, but we keep moving - eyes downward - as the terns flutter and squeak above us. We have ten minutes, max - in and out. Fingers fumble. We're near the end of our time.

And then it is done and we move fast, a bee line to the dunes. We throw ourselves down, breathless, out of sight. Eyes glued to binoculars, we wait. Will they return? Will they find their scrapes? Have we done more harm than good? It's a gamble, always. We wait, and wait... and after about ten minutes are rewarded in our efforts by the sight of the terns returning, one by one, to their scrapes. A quick count. A sigh of relief. They're okay. Tonight, our local Mr Fox - however fantastic - will have to seek easier prey.

It's an intense time, and though each successful stage comes as a relief it isn't until the end of shorebird season that we'll be able to really breathe again. When, we very much hope, we will see our little terns fledge. We celebrated our first egg. We'll celebrate our first chick. But our first fledgling? Deck out the beach in bunting and ring the bells. We might even run to a commemorative plate.

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is situated on the North Northumberland coast and includes not only the Holy Island of Lindisfarne but 3500 hectares covering 65km of coastline. It is managed by Natural England. Our work with shorebirds is powered by both staff and volunteers and is part of The Little Tern Recovery Project - this work is part funded by the EU Life+ Nature Programme. If you are interested in volunteering on this or other projects on the reserve, please contact Annie Ivison at or on 01289 381470.

Ceris Aston
NNR Apprentice, Beal Station

Ed: Please note that photograph copyright to Kevin Simmonds and permission to use is . Little terns are a schedule one species and may only be photographed by those with a license to do so.


AONB launches written word competition ( What will you write? )

Do you love writing? Are you a budding poet? Then we have a competition just for you. Write a short story or poem about the Northumberland Coast and you could win a prize, as part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership 60th anniversary celebrations.

Are you a budding writer with an interest in the coast and the natural or historic environment? Or do you work with young people or adults who are interested in writing? This competition aims to encourage people from Northumberland and beyond to reflect on and write about the Northumberland Coast. Stories that consider local people and places are encouraged. The competition is open to three age categories: 7-11 years, 12-16 years and adults. Entries could be short stories,

poems or verse, as long as they meet the terms of entry. The winning entries will be published on the Northumberland Coast AONB website and used in other displays and presentations as part of our diamond celebrations.

Three renowned authors and poets have been lined up to judge the competition:

Dan Smith is an award winning, Newcastle-based author of adventure stories for younger readers, and thrillers for adults

Dr Tony Williams is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Northumbria University, who writes poetry and prose fiction

Richie McCaffery is an award winning poet, with a PhD in Scottish Literature from Glasgow University. He is originally from Warkworth

The Partnership have been awarded a grant of nearly 900 from The Pen and Palette Club to help stage further events. The Finale will be in the autumn, with a concert featuring song, music and drama celebrating the cultural heritage of the Northumberland Coast. There will be an award ceremony and prize giving for the written word competition winners and a performance of the winning entries.

Catherine Gray, Funding and Communications Officer for the AONB Partnership said: "As part of our 60th anniversary celebrations, we wanted to give people a chance to share their energy and enthusiasm for the area. What better way than to let imaginations run wild with a written word competition? We're very much looking forward to reading the entries and working with our inspiring judges".

Terms of Entry

  • Entry is free
  • Entries from 7-11 year olds should be 500 words maximum. Entries from 12- 16 year olds and adults should be 1000 words maximum
  • Entries must be written in English and be your own work
  • Entries must be submitted using the form provided, by e-mail to: or post to: Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF
  • No more than one entry may be submitted per person
  • Winners will be notified by email no later than 30 September 2018

An application form can be downloaded from our website.

Catherine Gray
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership
01670 622644,

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

July  & August at Ford & Etal

7th & 8th July:  Carham Re-enactment Weekend

A Living History and Battle Re-enactment weekend to commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Carham 1018.  Free admission, free parking. Full details at

15th July and 19th August:  Farm Market at Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre

Wednesdays & Thursdays through July and August: (also 1st, 8th & 22nd July, 12th, 19th , 26th & 27th August) Pop-up Market with the St Abb's Traders in Etal Village Hall.  Shop local! Gifts, foodstuffs, crafts and more.

Every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday in July & August:  Kids Baking Sessions at Heatherslaw Cornmill, 11.30am and 2.30pm.  Get messy in the Dough Zone!  Pre-booking advisable although not essential.  01890 820338/820488

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre:  look out for special events through the summer including carriage rides and demonstration days. 

For more information go to or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - - Phone: 01890 820338


The funeral of Rev. Michael Burden took place on June 1 in Surrey. After he retired as Vicar of Berwick's Holy Trinity Church Michael and Ann lived in "White House" on Holy Island. Ann made its garden one of the loveliest on the island, and painted many fine pictures. Michael turned a shed into a forge where he made iron sculptures.

For years I had been trying to change my house for one with a garden where I could grow vegetables for local use. When he was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimers, which required them to move into a clergy home, he said that he wanted me to have their house. He did not waver even though there was delay in raising the extra money.  For that I am grateful.

I have three abiding memories of Michael. The first was when he told me that he had a second conversion. He used to dislike tramps who habitually came from Berwick rail station to his door, asking for money, until one day he 'saw the face of Christ' in them and never again resented such visits..

The second memory was embarrassing for me. It was when locals were packed into the Manor House to see the old millennium out. After a few pints Michael shouted in a loud voice to Jen, 'Why don't you ask Ray to say a prayer?' I wished the floor would swallow me up!

The third abiding memory is of the last Eucharist that Michael celebrated at St. Mary's. He said something like: 'My body and my mind are disintegrating. But it doesn't matter, because my soul is not. In this Eucharist I take the life of Christ into my soul and it will last for ever.'

When I let staff workers use "White House" and became a tenant in Berwick I took one of his garden sculptures and placed it in my back yard where I hang flower pots and bird feeders.  Here is a photo.

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian, The international Community of Aidan and Hilda

Rev Michael Burden - 'blacksmith of Holy Island'
R.I.P. Dear Michael



  Pattern of worship for Sundays
8am Holy Communion (BCP) 
10.45am Parish Eucharist 
5.30pm Evensong
Pattern of worship for Weekdays
(Monday - Saturday)
Morning Prayer 7.30am
Holy Communion 8am
Evening Prayer 5.30pm




Love the World
by David Adam
160 pages
Paperback, 9.99
ISBN: 978 0 281 07776 2
19 July 2018

is one of Celtic spirituality's
best-loved figures. Author of
many books, he was Vicar of
the Holy Island of Lindisfarne
for 13 years.

Love the World
by David Adam
19th July 2018

Urges us to explore and delight in the mystery
of being through meditating on the wonders
of the created world.

Love the World opens by looking at the beginning of the universe, then moves on to the earths atmosphere, the miracle of water and things that we often take for granted but are essential for our health and happiness. It focuses on our relationship with the world and encourages us to reflect on what really matters:

'Like countless others, I have enjoyed and learnt a
tremendous amount about Celtic spirituality from David Adam's writings over the years. Not only does he write about spirituality, but he also crafts beautiful prayers in the Celtic tradition.'
New Directions
For media enquiries, more information or to request a review copy, please contact Elizabeth Neep: 020 7592 3959

Holy Island Post Office



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