The site and starting point of Britain's Viking history
Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is a tidal island located in Northumberland. Lindisfarne was an important centre of Celtic Christianity under Saints Aidan of Lindisfarne, Cuthbert, Eadfrith of Lindisfarne and Eadberht of Lindisfarne. After the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England, a priory was reestablished. A small castle was built on the island in 1550.
The first Viking raid on Lindisfarne is infamous, taking place in 793 and commonly seen as the starting point of Viking history in Britain.
The raid is often portrayed as a sudden, brutal attack. Certainly, it was a very bloody assault with many Christian residents slaughtered, others enslaved, and the priory stripped of anything of value.
However, this narrative of the pagan, blood-thirsty Vikings mindlessly plundering the monasteries and island has been skewed by the bias of the church, who were the historical record keepers of the period.
More recently, this raid has been recognised as an organised and strategic attack on a known centre of wealth rather than the bloody, but lucky, result of the raiders stumbling across the island. Monasteries were popular targets for Viking raiders as they were usually ill-defended and contained items of high value.
Not everyone on the island was killed, as the Vikings left some alive for future raids to plunder the islands further.
There were further raids on Lindisfarne but the island was generally ignored as Viking raids focused more on the North of Scotland and South of England. However, the Lindisfarne monks fled the island with St Cuthbert’s bones after the Northumbrian kingdom fell to Vikings in 875.