SITEZINE: HOLY ISLAND'S E-MAIL
- A bit from me...
- Holy Island Causeway: user safety
- Through the eyes of a resident
- Peregrini Lindisfarne landscape partnership
- Archaeological excavation on Holy Island
- Holy Island village hall rebuilding appeal
- Lindisfarne Castle
- The amazing journey of an island swallow
- Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
- The final committal
- Having a say in the care of our beautiful coast
- News from Ford & Etal
- From the community of Aidan and Hilda
- From the Vicarage
- Pause for thought
Dr Ian Kille leading a geological ramble around Holy Island.
|A BIT FROM ME
Welcome to our July issue of Sitezine
The world will be aware of
the outcome of the British referendum on the European Union and the
'sour grapes' attitude expressed by some not
happy with the 'Brexit' vote. But whilst a 52%
majority is by no means a landslide, the United Kingdom is a democracy
and will uphold the vote of the majority. Ever a gentleman,
the prime minister has fallen on his sword. The opposition party is
in turmoil. Watch this space....
Last month I mentioned that our swallows had
returned were rebuilding their nest over the front door. Well,
after several catastrophic attempts, it seems that their rebuilding
skills are sadly lacking. The broken nest has now been abandoned and
with it with it the prospect of facing summer without
the thrill of following a new brood. A bit like
being a follower of the English football team!
This morning as I write the sun sits burningly alone in a
clear blue sky. But not for long as Monday heralded the start of the
Wimbledon tennis championships. Amongst a pile of ironing Maureen's
attention is focused on the TV screen. 'Come on Tim' I
shout trying to share in her enthusiasm.
The huge crowds visiting Holy Island over the past week were
certainly in for a real treat with 'Lindisfarne' topping the bill at
the Holy Island Festival. Outside in Sanctuary Close, beside the Big
Top circus, there were displays on the archaeology being revealed
from the various continuing live digs being conducted by 'Dig
Ventures' and 'Oracle Heritage Services'.
So far as the website is concerned,
we have been supplied with information enabling our Etal
Castle, Berwick Barracks, Dunstanburgh Castle and Lindisfarne Priory webpages to be brought up
to date as well as the causeway
Thank you (and welcome back Paul) to all
our writers for keeping all our subscribers in touch with
Holy Island over the past month. We've even managed to squeeze in a
report on the 'final committal of 110 Anglo-Saxon skeletons into the
crypt of St Aidan's Church, Bamburgh' from Jessica Turner and an invitation from Liz Walters to
have a say in the care of our beautiful Northumberland
Finally, please note that, as in previous years, this will
be our last issue until we return after the summer holidays on 1st
In the meantime we hope you enjoy
our newsletter and have a great summer.
God Bless - Geoff Porter
|HOLY ISLAND CAUSEWAY: USER
Progress: the SSI officer and highways are
currently working on a work plan which will then be priced and worked
up. It is almost certain to be over 2 years to allow budget
provision but is ongoing now thank goodness. I will update you as
soon as I have firm dates.
Northumberland County Council
ED: Thank you for taking the time to bring us
|THROUGH THE EYES OF A
||Revd Ray Simpson|
'The editor's email' asked if any of the
writers team could checkout the archeologists who were digging on
various sites during the Holy Island Festival not long before they closed
down. I became a roving reporter but I am a lay person in
such matters and all inaccuracies are mine. The Dig is a partnership between
the Peregrine Project, Durham University and Venture Digs.com It was mentioned on
the BBC Radio Four Sunday programme.
Two digs took place on the heugh. Paul
Frodsham of www.oracleheritageservices.com
Services.com . One revealed traces of an early medieval
building. Paul speculated whether this was the site of Saint Aidan's
cell, since he came from Iona where the abbot.(i.e. Columba) had his
cell on a ridge. The other revealed a wall. They speculated whether this
was a watch tower which the Anonymous Life of Cuthbert refers to with
reference to Lindisfarne brothers looking out for fire signals from Farne Island
to indicate that Cuthbert had died.
Two human skulls were found in the two digs
in Sanctuary Field. David Petts, Associate Director of Durham
University's Institute of Medieval and Early Modern studies thought
there were hints of a cemetery from the period of the
Celtic/Anglo-Saxon monastic village. At some point this cemetery was seriously damaged and overlaid.
They also found the second silver coin (a sceat) so far found on
the island. It was dated as between 735-58 and had on it
the head of Northumbria's King Eadbert.
Dig Ventures were responsible for Trench 3 on
Glebe Field behind the Fiddlers' Green houses. This proved to be
chock full of archaeology. They unearthed a cobbled road way and a paved walkway with steps and
remains of what looked like a fisherman's cottage. The finds here were from
the later medieval period, when the Benedictine Priory was established. They found a
small fragment of Anglo-Saxon bone from the 9th century and some green
glaze pottery from the 13rh century.
DigVentures.com is a social enterprise. People from all
over the world give money to it and come as volunteer. They hope
that this partnership will grow and continue for five years and that local
and non local people will volunteer to dig. Then they might find
what lies behind the initial finds.
ED: Thank you to Ray for looking into and
explaining this most recent archaeological development
being carried out on Holy Island. In particular, I
wait with baited breath as work comes to an end on the Heugh. Will
the Lantern Chapel and Watchtower be revealed or will we have to
wait for continued excavations next
|PEREGRINI LINDISFARNE LANDSCAPE PARTNERSHIP
A real success
at the Peregrini Lindisfarne Heritage Festival
skies and blazing sunshine the weekend of 25th and 26th June saw the
first ever Peregrini Lindisfarne Heritage Festival showcase its
range of projects to local residents and visitors to Holy Island.
Running alongside the Holy Island Festival, approximately 4000
people enjoyed a range of heritage demonstrations highlighting our
cultural past including open pottery firing, spoon whittling and
medieval herbalism. The Peregrini
Information stand was well attended and the arts and crafts gazebo saw young
and old test their creative flair. Face painter Julie Charlton transformed some young
faces into some amazing characters and Dr Ian Kille guided people on
a geological ramble around the island.
Earlier this year
Peregrini landscape photography classes helped develop the skills of amateur photographers; the photographic
exhibition saw nearly 450 people vote for their favourite photograph, the results
of which will be advertised soon.
Anyone interested in getting involved in
Peregrini Lindisfarne can email me at email@example.com
or call the Peregrini office on 01668 213086.
|ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION ON HOLY
This June a joint team
from Durham University and DigVentures carried out a two-week
archaeological excavation on Holy Island. We opened up three
trenches- two in Sanctuary Close and one on the western side of the
village. The project is interested in identifying remains
of the Anglo-Saxon monastery, which would have been much larger than the later
medieval priory. This year we tried to evaluate a number of areas of
interest identified in an earlier geophysical survey we carried out in 2014
with the support of National Geographic.
In our trenches in Sanctuary Close, we
believe we have found evidence for the early monastery. In one
trench, we identified a large bank of rubble. On inspection this
turned out to have lots of disarticulated human bone embedded within
it. Whilst we started dismantling this feature we found two
fragments of Anglo-Saxon carving. Both were probably simple burial
markers, and one was a fine, if fragmentary, example of the small
group of namestones that have been found before on Lindisfarne. This
combination of human bone and grave markers suggests we must be
close to an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, although it has clearly been badly
damaged. As we removed this rubble deposit, we started to find a
number of stone settings, possibly gullies, that seem to hint at
some buildings in the immediate vicinity. In our other trench in
this field, we found an area of flagstone paving and yet more rubble
spreads. From this area we found
several pieces of metal slag, perhaps indicating metal working nearby. Most importantly, we
also found a silver coin of King Eadberht (AD737-58); this is very similar
to a coin found during excavations under the English Heritage visitor centre
that took place in the 1970s.
In our field to the west of the village we
found evidence for a substantial medieval (12th-15th century AD)
occupation. A series of walls and floors were uncovered, and we
found a number of big rubbish pits, which were crammed with
seashells, presumably the debris from baiting long-lines for
fishing. We found lots of other evidence for island life in this area, including iron fish-hooks, a
fragment of sawn whalebone, many fish bones and distinctive iron nails from wooden
boats. Although we did not find direct evidence for earlier Anglo-Saxon activity in
this area, we did find a piece of a bone comb dating
to the late first millennium AD.
Overall, although we
only had a short season, our discoveries have been incredibly
interesting and are helping us to focus in on key areas of early
medieval activity around the main monastic heart of the island. We
certainly hope to return next summer to expand on our work. We would
also like to take this opportunity to thanks all those on the island
who were so welcoming and kept us warm, dry, topped up with coffee
and provided with lots of other forms of support. We'll make sure everyone
on the island is kept informed of our work and I'll be back
up on the island before Christmas to give a talk about the results
of our work and to give people a chance to look at
some of the finds we made.
Dr David Petts
Dept of Archaeology
|HOLY ISLAND VILLAGE HALL REBUILDING APPEAL
dreich morning. Haar drifting across the Island blown by a cold wet
sea wind, real topcoat weather, the date Monday 30 May 2016! It's supposed
to be summer.
The significance of the day; it was the
first public event in the new Crossman Hall. At four o clock the
previous day, Ladies of the village arrived to set up for the coffee
morning in aid of St Mary's, the Parish Church.
well-tested pattern; raffle ticket sellers with tickets, pens and
buckets were set up near the entrance, they were followed by tombola
and bric-a-brac stalls, then the hot and cold drinks. For the
homemade scones, cakes and savoury tarts, together with jams &
chutney, it was necessary to move into the main hall.
The crowds poured in and
spent well, raising more than £1,000 for the Church and positive comments for
our new building.
For one who has been for so long and so
closely involved in this project, it was a great feeling
see this impressive building come to life as a gathering place for
our community and others. Already there are several confirmed bookings and a number
expression's of interest.
The Trustees have agreed to run the
over the summer months as a learning curve and have the formal
opening celebration early in October when most people will be less busy and
able to attend.
One of the outstanding surprises arrived on
site in mid-month.
Many of you will remember the Late Dr Janet
Backhouse, Keeper of Ancient Manuscripts at the British Library (BL)
and author of the beautiful illustrated 'Lindisfarne Gospels'.
The Trustees wanted to pay tribute to Janet and remind visitors
that Holy Island is the home of the Gospels. Permission was obtained
from the BL to use three plates from Janet's book as murals along
the front of the new hall. They are an outstanding feature of the
thanks to the British Library, London, for their allowing the use the
illustrations from the Lindisfarne Gospels and to Altro Ltd., the specialist Company who
provide the panels.
Finally, following discussion with the
Families, we have agreed to provide an appropriate hardwood bench in
the Hall grounds dedicated to (Tinko and Massey), Tommy Douglas
& Clive Massey, longstanding & hardworking Trustees who were
taken from us before they were able to see the results of their
Anyone wishing to make a contribution, please contact
David Lishman or David O'Connor via The Crossman Hall, Holy
Thank you all.
Anyone walking up the Front Street and
turning into the Big Loannin on Saturday night would stop and stare.
There was a queue of one hundred standing outside the Hall admiring
the Gospel Murals. Was this new installation the attraction -
Lindisfarne, the Group were playing in the
Hall as part of the Holy Island Festival. Doors opened at 7o'clock
and the sell-out concert soon had an eager audience. Things were buzzin and the warm-up
came on stage early and soon had all singing and laughing. Then
it was time for the interval, 30 minutes for a pee, a fag
and a drink.
programed the main event began, you could almost feel the new building
bracing it's self for the first concert live loud music and Oh Boy
did they play.
The Lindisfarne Story unfold from the heady
days of the late sixties and early seventies right through to
The audience responded to the crack and the music. The band over-ran
and the evening closed with several encores of 'Fog on the Tyne' and
a standing ovation.
Thanks to all, especially the Techs & Riggers, who made this
unforgettable evening possible.
work in the project has been to install a temporary - and rather
ugly - drainpipe on the Upper Battery. This is there to help ensure
that the 'test panel' - the section of wall where we are trialling
new pointing and render - can be kept free of water from the
waterspout above, from which rainwater otherwise simply runs down on
to the panel. The drainpipe connects to the spout and then
discharges onto the surface drain on the battery. If successful it
is likely we will try to install a more permanent downpipe,
although not in the same position as this
one, and probably not the same grey colour! This would still then
discharge into the surface channel, but a new drain would need to be
installed to link to one of the historic holes in the wall -
just visible below the parapet wall as you walk up to the Castle.
This throws up another side to the work here
in that we may have to lift the stone flags on the Upper Battery to
see what historic drainage still exists and how, if at all, it could
be reused in a new drainage system. I mentioned last month that the
Lower Battery had been lifted partially during a drainage survey and
any work on the Upper level would be to the same end. Where it
differs slightly is that the area we would be looking at may contain
more definite archaeology relating to the old fort; being nearer the parapet
walls where the guns were fixed. There is also the faint possibility
that should we hit the summit of Beblowe Crag - as we have
already in another test pit on the Upper Battery - we may even
be onto the pre-Castle levels, but that is an outside bet at best.
Inside we have been looking at how we can
improve visitor experience at the Castle once the work is done. Some
of the Castle is going to need new electrical cabling so it makes
sense to install this while plaster is off the walls and so last
month we met with one of our engineers to discuss this process. One
important impact this could have is that we have the chance to
improve the lighting scheme in the Castle with new and repositioned
lights. The Castle was electrified in 1970 but as we present the
place as it would have been in about 1910, the lighting can feel
somewhat inauthentic. If we were able to electrify certain
collection items (like chandeliers and wall sconces) then we might
get back to something akin to the way the Castle was lit a century ago. Sockets
will also be discreetly placed near fireplaces to give the option of
using modern fake fires, which are surprisingly realistic these days. So along with
the building being given a lick of paint (to say the least), when
the project is fished the whole visit should show a notable visual improvement.
In terms of next year we should soon be in a position to let everyone
know what is happening and when; the work programmes are being finalised and
tender documents nearly ready to go out. It all suddenly seems very real!
Meanwhile at the shop Mel has got the new
plant bench for the back garden, which sounds trivial, but in fact
means that she can expand her garden range to include more variety
of plants. Given the poor weather and frosts earlier in the year it is
just as well she has left this until now, although given how
wet June has been we won't get too excited just yet. Inside there
are plenty of promotions going on and with summer due on the Island
anytime there will be related stock arriving soon so look out for that.
|THE AMAZING JOURNEY OF AN ISLAND SWALLOW
Many of our island Swallows are feeding
their first broods of young after a slow start to the breeding
season caused by the cold and miserable weather of April and early May.
This delayed their arrival and when they did
get here they faced a shortage of flying insect food, so vital to
rebuild their strength after the long migration from their African
wintering grounds. Their minds must have been on survival rather
than settling down to nest.
One male Swallow which arrived back on the
island perished, probably because of this early shortage of food.
But because he was ringed he has given us an insight into just how
demanding their lives can be.
I've been ringing Swallows on the island for
more than a decade. Once a Swallow has a tiny uniquely-number metal
ring it becomes an identifiable individual and we can gain a lot of
information if it is recovered.
This bird was found near the Crown&
Anchor by Shelia Lishman when she was picking up litter which
seeming increasingly to be left around the village. Noticing it was
ringed, she put it in her freezer until she contacted me. When
I collected it I found it was an adult male
with beautifully long tail streamers.
The ring was one of a series I'd used on a
brood of five chicks I'd processed in June 2011 in Tommy and
Beatha's garage in Lewins Lane, one of my regular ringing
sites. Tommy was always delighted by the Swallows in his
garage and down at the beach. I know he'd have
been fascinated by this one.
Ringing has shown that male Swallows usually
return to the general area where they were born. Females don't and
that appears to be nature's way of avoiding in-breeding.
It's reasonable to assume that this Swallow
had returned to the island annually to breed somewhere around the
village, perhaps even back in the garage where he fledged, but
succumbed to hunger
soon after his final home-coming.
Because we know its birthplace and age, it's
possible to calculate how far this particular bird has travelled in
its five years of life. Swallows which breed in Britain and
Western Europe winter almost exclusively in South Africa. From
the island that's a round trip of about 20,000 miles. Our Swallow
will have completed that journey five times,
a total of 100,000 miles.
But that's just its migration mileage to and
from the island. It will also have travelled thousands more miles
out hunting while breeding and feeding young here and during its the
winter months in South Africa.
This typical male Swallow with long tail steamers shows its iridescent blue gloss in bright sunlight. [ Photograph: Tim Dean]
But, of course, those are just the bald
statistics. Just as remarkable are the details of those
migrations. Recoveries of ringed Swallows from our region show
that when they leave in autumn they move down the coast, feeding as
they go and often roost at night in reedbeds. Many have been found
in vast roosts near the south coast
before they cross into France.
They then move southwards through Spain and
Portugal, usually still managing to find abundant insects if the
weather is kind. They then reach the Mediterranean to begin the
toughest stage of their
journey with many new threats.
Firstly, they have to avoid new predators
which specialises in hunting passing migrants. One of these,
Eleonora's Falcon, named after a 14th Century warrior-princess and
national heroine of Sardinia, is so fast and agile that it can
easily fly down Swallows and Swifts. It even delays its breeding on
sea cliffs until the period of peak migration so its young can be
fed on a
diet of easily-caught tired birds.
Most Swallows cross the western end of the
Mediterranean. On several autumn visits I've watched many hundreds
skimming the waves through the Straits of Gibraltar, to reach North
Africa. Then they face sudden changes in weather. Baking heat, bare
mountains and arid desert
can all take their toll.
Swallows face stark choices: They can either
head directly southwards across one of the greatest natural barriers
on earth, the Sahara Desert. Or they can opt for the longer and
still very hazardous route down the Atlantic coast of Africa.
Whichever they take, predators, starvation and
heat exhaustion are all threats.
Those which overcome these hurdles reach
central Africa where they can again find abundant food to fuel their
onward journey. Their destination, South Africa, provides much
easier conditions enabling them to feed, rest and rebuild their
strength. Then, of course, by the following February and March
they have to do the same journey in reverse.
Considering all the threats and problems of
these epic migrations, it always seems marvellous that so many
Swallows manage to return and delight us each spring. Our Lewins
Lane bird must have been a tough little character to survive five
such amazing migrations but he may well have
been typical of island Swallows.
Taking all problems into account, a lifespan
of five years might seem remarkable. But the British longevity
record involves a Swallow found freshly- dead in Hampshire 11 years
after being ringed in a local nest.
It must have travelled over 200,000 miles on
migrations alone and that's the equivalent of flying to the Moon and
half way back. Not bad for a bird weighing less than a £1 coin.
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
The shorebird season is
almost half way through now and we are starting to see chicks
emerging throughout the Reserve. Soon after tern and ringed plover
chicks hatch they can be extremely mobile using the whole beach to
feed and rest. This makes it even more important for visitors to our
amazing beaches to take heed of signs and keep dogs on leads or at
heel throughout the Reserve. All species of tern have been well
represented this year and hopefully this will translate well into
birds fledging and returning in a couple of years to breed back at
Lindisfarne- time will tell.
Despite most wildlife
being 2 weeks behind where they were last year because of the
weather there are orchids and wildflowers painting the dunes with a
splash of colour. Northern Marsh, Early Marsh and
Pyramidal Orchids can be seen amongst others in various stages throughout the
Last weekend we were at the Holy Island
Festival with a stall and spoke to the public about Lindisfarne NNR.
We had volunteers Gill and Colin helping and making badges and
flappy terns with the kids (and big kids). We also had pictures
drawn by pupils from Holy Island and Lowick First Schools displayed
which were really eye catching for people passing the stall.
Events to look out for in the future are our annual
Shorebird Celebration at the Window on Wild Lindisfarne on the 23rd
of July, Seal Safari on the 20th of August (booking required)
and Yoga on the North Shore on the 21st of August (booking
Reserve Warden, Beal Station,
Tel: 01289 381 470
Mhairi's blog and facebook page can be found at http://lindisfarnennr.blogspot.co.uk/
THE FINAL COMMITTAL
The final committal of 110 Anglo-Saxon
skeletons into the crypt of St Aidan's Church, Bamburgh took place
on Friday 24th June.
A poignant and moving ceremony to mark the
final committal of the Anglo-Saxon Bowl Hole skeletons was held at
St. Aidan's Church, Bamburgh on Friday. Encased in individual zinc
charnel boxes the skeletons have been finally laid to rest in the
small second crypt beneath the 11th Century chancel.
The specially created ossuary is the
culmination of years of work by Bamburgh Heritage Trust and the
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership. The skeletons were excavated
between 1998-2007 from the sand dunes to the south of Bamburgh
Castle by Bamburgh Research Project. Years of research by Bamburgh
Research Project and Durham University in partnership with Bamburgh
Castle Estate has resulted in an unrivalled wealth of information
about our Anglo-Saxon ancestors who were living in Bamburgh 1,400
A beautiful horse drawn antique hearse
brought the remaining ten charnel boxes from Bamburgh Castle to the
church and the skeletons were accompanied on their final journey by
the staff from Bamburgh Castle and archaeologists from Bamburgh
The ceremony was led by the Canon Rev Brian
Hurst with the Venerable Peter Robinson, Archdeacon of Lindisfarne.
The Canon Rev Hurst said "It seems very fitting that these
individuals have found their final resting place in the crypt of St
Adain's church - they who may have known King Oswald and his gentle
bishop, Aidan - they who would have known a church on this site and
may have known that here it was that Aidan died. It is almost as if
the crypt has been waiting for them to come and offer them this
peaceful resting space."
The service included a
talk by the author Max Adams about the wider historic importance of
Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh and Graeme Young, the director of Bamburgh
Research Project, covered the archaeological significance of the
site. A particularly moving element of the service was when Tom
Clark read 'The Seafarer', an Anglo-Saxon poem, in original Old
English - the very language that these people would have spoken and
Jessica Turner of the Northumberland Coast
AONB Partnership said "It was all incredibly moving and very
beautiful. We are immensely grateful to all those who helped make
The skeletons are now secure in the second
crypt behind a stunning grille designed and made by local blacksmith
and artist Stephen Lunn. Stephen's design is a modern interpretation
of the AngloSaxon knot with animal heads reflecting the zoomorphic
tradition in ancient Celtic art and the 3D knot work reflecting the
Anglo-Saxon - the two artistic traditions that merged in St.
Oswald's Bamburgh and resulted in the Golden Age of Northumbria.
Jessica Turner - Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org
photographs are by Ian Glendinning - email@example.com
|HAVING A SAY IN THE CARE OF OUR BEAUTIFUL COAST
The Northumberland Coast
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership is inviting
local people to have their say in an exciting new project to care
for our beautiful coast.
With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund,
the AONB Partnership is working together with Northumberland
Wildlife Trust, Seahouses Development Trust and Natural England to
develop a new project which will look after the sweeping sandy
beaches, rolling dunes, village greens and community spaces,
farmland and grasslands, which make up our coastal environment.
These areas all need careful care and management to maintain the
landscape, protect the plants and animals that live here and enable
local residents and visitors to explore and enjoy it.
If funding is secured, the new Coast Care
project will support volunteers of all ages to care for and nurture
this exceptional landscape. There will be opportunities for
volunteers who want to contribute on their own or as part of a group
and those who are able to make a regular commitment as well as those
who just have a couple of hours to spare. In short, there will be
something for everyone. The project team are keen to hear from
anybody who would be interested in supporting this project as a volunteer.
Cllr John Woodman, Chair of the
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, said, "The Northumberland
coast is very special to all of us who live here and it is really
important that we create ways for local people to look after it. The
project will provide training, expenses and support for people who
are able to give a little of their free time. Whether a regular
weekly commitment, joining a volunteer group, leading guided walks
or events or making cakes for meetings or fundraising activities,
there will be something for everyone."
The project vision is that by working
together, we will be able to make a difference forever.
If you think you could help, please let the
AONB know by completing the questionnaire which is available online
All respondents will be entered into a prize draw to win a
Northumbrian hamper (winner announced after 19th August 2016).
Responses must be received by 30th July 2016.
|NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL
Every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday: Family bread-making sessions at
Heatherslaw Cornmill, 11.30am & 2.30pm - free with normal
Every Thursday at Etal Village Hall
- St Abb's Pop up Market - lots of lovely local food and crafts
5th-28th July - Exhibition in 'the poultry shed' opposite Heatherslaw Cornmill -
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 11am-4pm - An Update on Local History by TillVAS.
17th July - Farmers Market at Hay Farm Heavy
30th July - The Handlebards
present Much Ado about Nothing at Pallinsburn House.
Fundraiser for HospiceCare North Northumberland. Outdoor Shakespeare from the inimitable Handlebards,
4 men cycling the length and breadth of the UK
(and beyond!) carrying all their props and equipment with them. Hilarious, original and
31st July - 10am - 4pm in Etal Village Hall - Antiques and
|FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND
The founding leader of our community in
Norway is a sailor and a pastor.
Last month he brought four staff from his
church: the youth pastor, the families pastor, the catechist and the
organist. They went running round the island, but the catechist told
me he ran three times round Emmanuel Head. I asked him why. 'In
honour of the Trinity' he explained. Did he know that Trinity
Lighthouse erected that white pillar?
Thank you to those who responded to my
article in the June issue.
In July and August there will be retreats at
The Open Gate at North View on seasons of the soul, wholeness and
mindfulness. August 26 - 31 is a study week on Aidan, linked to the
publication in July of a book, St. Aidan's Way of Mission: Celtic
insights for a post-Christian world, written by Brent Lyons Lee, one
of our leaders in Australia, and a colleague.
The new Open Gate Wardens have been
appointed, Lesley and Kevin Downham. They officially start in the
Autumn but will be in and out before then. After years in Business
Management, much of which was in the Publishing sector Kevin became
a funeral director before his current role as Head of Faith and
Pastoral Care in a high security prison. In this role Kevin leads a
multi-faith team of chaplains supporting prisoners, staff and
prisoner families. Kevin is a singer and musician playing the
accordion, concertina and mandolin amongst other instruments.
Lesley is currently Executive Officer for an
international charity providing support to the Board of
Trustees and the Senior Management Team having spent a career in
providing administrative support in the charity sector. Lesley is a
singer and is learning to play the harp. Additionally she is a
gifted photographer and enjoys walking and cycling.
Together they love cooking and entertaining
and look forward to welcoming friends into their new home on the island.
The International Community of Aidan and Hilda
|FROM THE VICARAGE
During the EU Referendum Campaign many people asked for the
'facts'. Each side supplied its own version of some of the 'facts'.
Many people were disappointed that 'facts' seemed to be in short
Well perhaps the reality is that there are no 'facts' at all.
Yes, we all experience day to day life and we share our
experiences by speaking of them to others. But once we open our
mouths and clothe those experiences in words and language, we have
already interpreted our experience. Those who translate from one
language to another are very appropriately called 'interpreters'.
Yes, for the sake of ease we all operate as though there were
'facts' but this is just a convenience, and a convenience which has
The world as we know it, life as we live it, our very selves as
we seem to be, are all constructed and conditioned by language. And
when we speak, whatever the extent of vocabulary we may have,
language speaks us, as much as we speak language. Language is game:
like all games it has its rules (grammar or conventions). If we do
not play by the rules of our language game, we will not be
understood. So to speak is to play a game: and that means that
language speaks us.
In the Old Testament there is a law about witnesses: A single
witness shall not suffice to convict a person of any crime or
wrongdoing in connection with any offence that may be committed.
Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be
sustained. (Deuteronomy 19.15, NRSV) This is not only about the
possibility of a person holding a grudge against another: but is
also a recognition that each of us will have our own perception of
the experience of an event or person - and that our spoken testimony
on its own is not 'fact'.
There is a group of people who do their best to break the rules
of language: the poets. They seek to use words and language to
create meaning by stretching rules and playing with conventions.
They seek very often to take us beyond our desire for 'facts' to a
place 'beyond', 'outside' and different from the mundane and the
banal. It is my own view that our politicians need to be much more
open about the lack of 'facts' and perhaps learn some lessons from
Stevie Smith's Not waving but drowning is a simple but elegant
example of a poet's play with language:
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out
all my life
And not waving but drowning.
Stevie Smith © 1972
|PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
||Revd Canon Kate Tristram|
These two little words have been
called the saddest in our language. 'If only... if only...'
There is a German saying, 'If the word 'if' didn't exist my father would
be a millionaire'. Well yes, he might be a millionaire, but he
would not be human. As humans we can always
imagine that things might have been different. Things might have been
worse: that makes us thankful. Or they might become worse: that
makes us anxious. Or they might get better: that
makes us hopeful. So many of our feelings are
involved with this little word 'if'. As far as we know
animals don't think like this, so 'if ' is one of the things
that makes us human.
We can play games with history. I remember in my youth being
told, 'If Cleopatra's nose had been half-an-inch longer it would have changed the whole
history of the world'. Why? Because then she wouldn't have been perfectly
beautiful, and Mark Antony would not have fallen in
love with her and lost the battle to Augustus Caesar, and
there would have been no Roman Empire, and we should have
been still in the Iron Age, and so on.
But often our 'if only' is not part of
a game, but we are looking back on our lives with
regret for lost opportunities. Some people spend quite a lot of time brooding
over things like that.
I think we should challenge our regretful 'if onlys'. 'If only
it wasn't too late...'
But who says it's too late? What if there is something opening up for you, something that it's not
too late to do?
In the Christian tradition God has an 'if only' to say to
us. 'If only you would hear my voice'... he says many
times in the Bible. 'If only you would come
alive to the things I want to give you:
joy instead of sorrow, meaning instead of pointlessness, beauty instead of
drabness, goodness instead of evil.' That is God's 'if only' to us. We
decide how to respond.