27 July, 2021

Cuddy's Turf

Cuddy's Turf
There is no more sainted isle in Britain than Lindisfarne or Holy Island, stretched like a lamb's leg off the extreme north-east of England. We reached it across a narrow causeway only open at low tide. That symbolic crossing, similar to a tirth in the Hindu tradition, reminded us that this had been the home of two saints—Aidam and Cuthbert—who brought Christianity to the region long before the Vikings laid waste their monastery in ninth century AD. The saints lived in great simplicity with none of the lofty stone buildings enjoyed by monks of later times. The Lindisfarne Gospels, the most beautiful book ever written in England, happened here, inspired by the ritual exhumation of Cuthbert's body 11 years after his death. This illuminated manuscript, on display at the British Museum in London, is the crowning glory of old British art. Its vibrant spirals and stylised animals are said to be the work of one man, labouring away for years in a wooden hut scriptorium. On Holy Island...

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