• A bit from me...
  • Crossman Hall
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • The Day of the Redwings
  • Lindisfarne NNR
  • Enamel Christmas Decoration Workshop
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From our United Reformed Church minister
  • From the Vicarage
  • St. Mary's notices

St. Mary's Church
'Harvest Festival - Thelma Dunne'

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

Welcome to the November issue of 'SitEzine'.

St. Mary's 'New Sign'

The main holiday season seems to be continuing on this year with many thousands visiting the island despite the temporary closure of the castle for renovations. Indeed, there can be few opportunities anywhere in the world to see a 'tented' 16th century castle. Roll on next Spring to when all can see the fruits of the National Trust's investment.

What a busy November in the Crossman Hall and perhaps like us you visited in October to discover the 'Pop-Up' market. We're now saving our pennies for the Christmas-themed version on 12th November - also Linda has been in touch with an article about the 'Enamel Christmas Decoration Workshop' they will be holding in the hall on 26th November. And last but by no means least (!) don't forget the long-awaited presentation by the archaeologists who were digging up our island during the summer on Wednesday15th November. Beginning at 7pm, entry is FREE!!

CAUTION: Sadly, over the summer the county has done little to improve causeway drainage or safety. Sea water (salt water) is extremely corrosive both to vehicles and those affected by your spray. Please drive courteously and be wary of underlying debris and potholes... The winter period, with its darker nights and increasing likelihood of bad weather adds significantly to crossing difficulties. The North Sea does not suffer fools gladly. Islanders take note of the published causeway crossing times. We advise you to do the same.

Thank you to Annie Ivison, our new reserve warden at 'Beal Station' for the Lindisfarne NNR and all the writers who have given their time in contributing to this month's newsletter. But it is particularly saddening to share our vicar's news with you. I am sure that you will all wish to add your prayers to those of our community for Paul and Pauline as they prepare for the next stage in their lives. This month our final word is from our church Warden (Sam Quilty) which includes, what is hoped to be, a small change to service times in preparation for the forthcoming (and hopefully brief) interregnum.

Enjoy this November issue - we look forward to writing for you again in December.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)

PS: Best wishes for a long and happy retirement to Maureen who, after 21 years' closes 'The Bungalow B&B' in exchange for 'living the life of Riley', looking after her gorgeous, Goldendoodle puppy, an errant husband and spending more time with the family.

PPS: Welcome incomers Chris and Eileen who have moved onto the island from the 'deep south' to join us as residents and neighbours on Holy Island.


Charity Commission Annual Return

The annual return to the Commission, a document that can be difficult to collate, was delayed, but with a wing and a prayer we made our deadline.

Annual Insurance cover   

October is our renewal month and ensuring that all of the t's are crossed and the I's dotted is time consuming.

For a so-called 'paperless' society I've done a fair bit of printing and circulating this month, but that's the job done and we are well covered but we need to monitor use of the Hall ensuring that those we host do not compromise our insurance policy.

Energy Supply

From the New Year we will let EON go and enjoy a less expensive provider of electricity back-up supplementing our PV panels and air heat exchange pumps.

Pilates & Yoga Class

I have contacted Julia Waters reference establishing a winter class in the Hall. But so far Ms Waters has not responded with any dates or times. Will keep you informed of any developments.

Berwick & District Cancer Support Group - Coffee Morning

The Island turned out and gave fulsome support to this local Cancer Support Charity. We were knee deep in cakes, large and small, scones, quiche, homemade jams & chutney. Book stall, tombola, lucky-dip, raffle etc., produced at close of play 1,036.00 for the Group. Well done everyone.

Sunday 26 November 2017
10.30am - 4pm

Enamel Christmas Decoration Workshop
with Scottish artist and designer
Susan Macleod

contact Linda to reserve your place
Mobile: 07904 920007

Other events

  • During the month the Pop-Up markets were well attended by visitors and they will be back for a Christmas Market early in November and later that month will run a Christmas Market in the Hall in November.
  • Their Organiser has suggested that they would like to return on several occasions in 2018 and we will discuss dates as they come to hand. Their payment goes to part funding of our annual running costs.
  • A post Confirmation Service of Tea & Buns was well attended and enjoyed by the Confirmed and their Families and Friends mid-month.
  • Dr Ian Kille, Northumbrian Earth, held a fascinating learning day in the Hall looking at the Impact of Ice on our land forms of today. He will host another learning day on 25 November 2017 "Measuring Coastal Change" from 10:00 until 15:00, lunch provided.
  • Don't forget, the Archaeologists on 15 November 2017, beginning at 19:00. Their presentation will partly open the door on one Holy Islands' most important eras. The recent exploration of parts of the Sanctuary Close and Heugh has produced finds of great national and local importance. Come and learn how important the work has been and what's next and entry is free.



It seems like the end is approaching, with room completion lists and snagging conversations starting commence. There is though plenty still to do in the Castle project so we mustn't get too excited or complacent.

One of the major steps forward internally is the near-completion of the main stairway to the Upper Battery. This is one of the oldest spaces in the Castle with a staircase having been in this location as long as the building has been there. Originally we think the walls would have been decorated with a lime wash and plaster finish, which was then replicated by Lutyens in 1906. His finish though included the addition of a semi-circular window over-looking the stair, and the intentional reveal of an old doorway now leading to his Long Gallery, the long corridor he introduced to link the two old east and west buildings together. This doorway previously led outdoors to a stair going up to the Queen Battery - the now covered-over third gun platform at Lindisfarne which was introduced in the mid-18th century in response to the Jacobite rebellion of the 1740s. The doorway itself is probably a salvaged bit of Priory given that we have uncovered a rather nice late-medieval spandrel detail on the lintel (one of four or five such doorways in the Castle), so this will be a welcome feature to show off when we reopen.

Following the Lutyens renovation and after Edward Hudson sold the Castle in 1921, his successor Oswald Falk had the plaster hacked off in the stairway and the stones themselves painted over in white. This work was then maintained for the rest of the century. The masons working at the Castle today have been able to restore this original scheme by building the layers back up, plastering over the stones to a smooth finish and preparing the wall to be painted again. The photo of Barby Lutyens taken in September 1906 shows the walls in a similar state to that they will be in in early November 2017, just after the skim coat of plaster has gone on but before the painting is done.

Outside the final phases of scaffolding are nearing completion too. Originally we had planned to have the scaffold going up in phases, mainly because there simply wasn't enough scaffolding around to have all three phases up at once. However because of delays to work on the north side, some areas have had to remain up longer so we will have a period when most of the building is surrounded. The giant buttress on the south side is scheduled to come down soon though, which will allow the vast temporary roof cover to come down from the east side. This cover will then make its way on to the north and west roof, so we will still have a tent over the Castle - just in a different place.

Finally, an interesting occurrence took place a few weeks ago which was barely noticeable because of the scaffolding. For the first time in a long time, the flagpole of the Castle was taken down to allow for the phase 2 roof to be installed. This is an unusual event and gives us a great chance to inspect the timber, and the now-defunct lightening protection at the top. The old rollers for the signal flags are still present, along with the modern one we used up until recently. On reopening I would like to fly a flag again, but not an NT one as in the past. Perhaps the Northumbrian one, or the Union flag...?

Maybe that is a good place to end!

Best wishes

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


Everywhere I've been around the village in the past couple of weeks one sound has

Watching the many rare species of birds which briefly visit the island during autumn migration is fine but it's often the really common species which provide the greatest spectacle.

So it proved on October 19th when, after almost three weeks of constant westerly winds, conditions changed suddenly to provide a light easterly breeze and hazy conditions on the island and sea.

Thousands of northern thrushes which had been held up in southern Scandinavia waiting to cross the North Sea took advantage of the conditions and provided one of the most impressive mass arrivals on the island I've ever seen.

From before dawn, spectacular numbers of Redwings, small northern cousins of our familiar garden Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, literally cascaded down on the island. The Redwings came in two categories: those which were fit and strong after their overnight sea crossing and simply overflew the island and the tired flocks which descended nosily into the fields, hedges, village trees and gardens.

Just about everyone who was out and about that morning has commented to me about the wonderful sight of so many of these colourful thrushes either racing on overhead and, more impressively, spiralling down into the fields and village.

Before daylight, the lads out in their boats watched them caught in their lights. In early morning, Robert and Alison were surrounded by them out at the farm. From the back garden in Crossgates as light broke, I watched party after party passing at rooftop height over the village. All were heading in a south westerly direction towards the mainland.

Most of these early birds either just overflew the village or dropped into the taller trees to take a short breather before carrying onwards, such was their migratory urge.

I later found around 60 evenly spread across the short grassed areas of the Green Lane coach park as they searched for worms and other invertebrates in the wet grass. A similar number were also foraging quietly in Thelma's field. The scene was the same right across the island.

Of course, October 19th was the morning the entire village gathered with friends from far and near to bid a fond farewell to Roger at St Mary's Church. As he was laid to rest, above the large gathering parties Redwings were dropping into the tops of the churchyard trees.

Redwings are the most attractive of birds. They are olive brown with heavily streaked breasts and a startling white eye-stripe. They are really misnamed as they don't have red wings but a wide blaze of orange on their flanks, as our photograph shows so well.

They breed across a huge arc of northern Scandinavia, the Baltic and further east across Russia. They are an abundant winter visitor right across Britain, Ireland, the southern half of Europe while others cross the Mediterranean to North Africa.

Redwings aren't particularly robust and in severe winters they suffer badly. In the past when there has been snow lying on the mainland, hungry little parties have appeared on the island. It's slightly milder climate, even if it sometimes doesn't feel like that, at least giving them a chance to find food and to survive.

In really bad conditions many other simply flood on westwards across to swell numbers in Ireland. A colleague once told me that during a period when even Ireland was largely snow-bound, he visited a small western coastal strip which had escaped a white covering. He found thousands of Redwings had sought refuge there. 

On the day of our huge arrival, I estimated, or rather guesstimated, that at least 5,000 crossed the village alone. Colleagues who were around the rest of the island calculated seeing at least another 15,000. If the two figures are added, this total of 20,000 at least equals the largest previous invasion on October 10th 1991 when huge flocks were briefly stranded on the island in heavy fog.

The Redwings didn't travel alone. Large numbers of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and a scattering of Ring Ouzels also arrived. Large numbers of beautiful Bramblings, northern finches in hues of orange, buff and black seemed in every treetop, the presence revealed by their high nasal calls. A few Redpolls and Goldcrests were also involved but, strangely, very few Fieldfares, the large and bold northern thrushes which often accompany such arrivals. However, they do tend to be a bit later than the others so that's something to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.

A few little travellers from much further afield also arrived in the form of a sprinkling of Yellow-browed Warblers from Siberia. Perhaps half a dozen were around the place including two which spent a lot of time chasing each-other around the Sycamore in the Vicarage garden. In the past they were extremely rare visitors to Britain but these days they are by far the most regular and plentiful of the eastern warblers.

An autumn Redwing, pausing to feed on migration: our picture shows the orange
flanks which provide its rather misleading name. Photograph: Mike S Hodgson.

The big influx continued on a lesser scale during the following days when migrants remained prominent around the island. It only petered out after five days when the winds swung back to their more regular westerly direction, again producing headwinds for any birds wanting to cross from northern Europe.

Of course, migration on this massive scale also involves the inevitable casualties. Some birds exhausted by the long North Sea crossing simply drop into the sea where they make very easy meals for large gulls, always lingering expectantly offshore at these times.

Daniel told me that one Redwing came aboard their boat. It skittered around as they tried to catch it to rest it in safety. It then tried to fly off but was immediately snatched from the air and eaten by two gulls.

At Crossgates, where newly arrived and obviously disoriented migrants were flying around, Hazel and Michael heard a sudden thump on the cottage window. Telltale small feathers floated down. I checked outside and in the front garden found a dead juvenile Song Thrush, a tragic end for a small bird which had probably just completed the most arduous and challenging journey of its young life.

Bird migration is something I suppose most people know about but comparatively few get the opportunity to actual see. On the island we are very lucky in that respect: migration occurs before our very eyes. 


A Month of Arrivals on the Nature Reserve

News from the Reserve Team

The beginning of October saw the arrival of the reserve's new manager, Annie Ivison, Previously Annie has worked as a Marine Education Officer at the Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats. She looks forward to supporting senior manager, Andrew Craggs and the award-winning team of volunteers at Lindisfarne NNR.

Wintering Birds

The arrival on mass of wintering birds also continued, some were just passing through but others will stay for winter, around 17,000 Barnacle geese have passed through, approximately 2,000 of these have remained on the reserve for feeding. Additionally 4,000. Light-bellied Brent geese from Svalbard are feeding on the seagrasses that are abundant across the mudflats of the reserve. 17,000 Wigeon were also observed feeding on site as well as 8,000 Pink-footed and 125 Greylag geese.

Autumn/Winter Habitat Management

Thirty cows have been employed to open up the sward by trampling and grazing, they also help to manage non-native flora such as Piri-piri burr, this natural land management removes the rank vegetation to support new growth of dune grasses and plants. The moderate, natural disturbance the cattle provide encourages high levels of biodiversity in floral and faunal species within the dune system.

We also graze twenty-four sheep on the dunes slacks with the same purpose as the cattle. The difference in grazing management is that the cattle graze extensively over a large area, whereas the sheep provide intensive grazing, they are regularly moved from one relatively small area to another.


The last of the 2017 events occurred during October, we had three Migratory Bird Watches, the final of which included a craft event for younger wildlife enthusiasts. We also had a Halloween event which focused on bats. These events provide the perfect opportunity to engage with the public and highlight the wonderful diversity of habitats and species here at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Next year we plan more public events that will focus on the natural history of the reserve.

We dicussed threats to bats, including loss of habitat; we made bat boxes to provide new places for them to live.

There was face painting, finger puppet and mask making as well as 'True or False' a game to teach young wildlife enthusiasts key facts about these amazing flying mammals.

.... most importantly we had FUN!

Annie Ivison
Reserve Warden, Beal Station
Tel: 01289 381 470


Scottish artist and designer, Susan Macleod will be running an enamel Christmas decoration workshop on Sunday 26 November 2017 at the Crossman Hall from 10.30am - 4pm. Susie is an experienced jeweller and artist who regularly exhibits her work throughout the UK and runs enamel and jewellery design workshops in Edinburgh.

In a fun and colourful afternoon, budding artists will have the opportunity to create their very own tree decoration and get to grips with metalworking and enamel application. This course is aimed at beginners looking to learn the basics of enamel on base metal and guess will leave with a beautiful and unique hand-made decoration.

As an introduction to the possibilities of enamel, Susie will explain the art of preparing base metal, enamel application and final polishing and cleaning of unique enamel work. Techniques explored:

With plenty of tea, coffee, chat and mince pies, this is the perfect way to celebrate the festive season with some colourful craft. To ensure there is plenty of time and one to one tuition with Susie, numbers are limited to eight.

The day will end with a lovely glass of mulled wine with home baked cheese scones and mince pies to round off the day.

To reserve your place, email Linda on or call 07904 920007

To find out more about Susie's work visit

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Ford  Christmas Market!!

Our ever a popular event, takes place on Sunday 26th November from 11am-3.30pm.

There's a great range of stalls selling crafts, gifts and locally produced foods, kids ride, Santa and Christmas Donkeys, a hog roast, wood fired fresh baked pizza and other street foods, free parking and a shuttle bus from Etal and Heatherslaw.


Forth To Farne

I was able to attend the inspiring service  at St. Mary's Parish Church, Whitekirk. to celebrate the launch of the Forth to Farne Way,  the new Pilgrimage Route between North Berwick and Lindisfarne.

The full length is 72 miles, but this has been divided into eleven stages between 2 and 13 miles long. Most of the route is on existing core paths. It takes us through areas of outstanding heritage, coastal paths, and has strong links with historic pilgrim routes dating back to the time of Saint Aidan.

The Steering Group has been supported by the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, Northumberland County Council, landowners, churches, businesses and community groups. For more information visit

Whitekirk's minister, Joanne Evans-Boiten, asked why 'a church in nowhere' was built so large? The answer, she said, was Pilgrimage. Dr. Thomas Torrance thanked the Christians of Lindisfarne who once evangelised as far north as Whitekirk. Lord Wilson of Tillyorn unveiled a Pilgrimage Route Banner and led pilgrims, after lunch, on a short leg to North Berwick.

In Scandinavia, churches and tourist agencies combine to ensure there is accommodation along their reviving pilgrim routes. This is already provided along Saint Cuthbert's Way,  and hopefully it will develop along the Forth to Farne Way also.


November is a month of remembrance; firstly Bonfire Night, with its slogan 'remember, remember the fifth of November', followed a week or so later by Remembrance Sunday when we bring to mind all those who have suffered or been killed by war.

Remembrance can happen on many different levels, it can be a fleeting memory of something inconsequential, or an active reliving of something significant.  I wonder how many of us really bring to mind the gunpowder plot and its political ramifications whilst enjoying bonfires and fireworks ?  November the fifth has become more of an opportunity to have a good time, than an occasion of active remembrance. (And thank you to all who ensure the bonfire and fireworks happen on the Island).

Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day should be another sort of occasion all together. This is a time to be aware of the fact that in every generation there are (often young) men and women who have been killed in war, and many, many more whose lives have been changed forever by conflict.  This awareness comes into focus at this time of year, but should not be just a passing thought.

Active remembrance should involve doing what we can to pray and work for peace, and to support the numerous charities who support victims of war around the world whether they served in the armed forces, or whether they are other victims of conflict around the world.

The prayer of St Francis is a famous prayer for peace; it is thought that it wasn't actually written by Francis, but it embodies the spirit of his teachings and the ideals of Christianity.  It was first circulated widely during the First World War which gives it an added poignancy and pertinence as we approach Remembrance Sunday.

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Rev Rachel Poolman
St Cuthbert's Centre

Berwick Food Bank

We're reached the time of year when many of us are aware of the rising costs of heating fuel.  For many households in our area, for many different reasons, people might be having to make a choice between eating and heating.  Gifts to the food bank are always welcomed, and can be left in the porch at St Cuthbert's.  Canned and non-perishable goods and toiletries  are welcomed, as are toiletries.

Thank you for your support.

FROM THE VICARAGE Revd Dr Paul Collins

As some of you will know I suffer from a disease known as Ankylosing Spondilitis, which was diagnosed 40 years ago in 1977.

Earlier this year my consultant Rheumatologist advised me that continuing to work was threatening my health both now and in the longer term and advised me to seek early retirement.

After a process of some months I have been granted permission to retire on grounds of ill health. And I will officially retire as Vicar of St Mary's on 31st December this year.

Ankylosing Spondilitis primarily affects the spine but can also affect any joint in the body. For me the disease has meant living with constant pain and ongoing fatigue. This arises from the disease's impact upon the skeleton and muscles; which means that sleep and rest do not ameliorate the fatigue.

On occasion the pain can become very acute and joints can become very stiff and inflamed. I am currently experiencing such a flare up in my neck, shoulders and hands, which is why I am no longer working.

Nonetheless I have always sought to live life to the full. I have sought not to be defined by this illness, although I am very aware of the limitations it imposes upon me.

Disease can often be perceived in terms of weakness, failure and imperfection. But the human person is a living organism and being alive means being vulnerable and susceptible to disease. Our bodies are mortal. How we perceive and deal with disease needs to be part of how we understand being alive and living as responsible creatures in God's creation.

May I ask for your prayers for Pauline and myself as we make preparation to move and begin a new stage in our lives.

Paul Collins
The Vicarage, Holy Island
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2RX
Tel. 01289 389 216


Remembrance Service : This will be held on Sunday 12th November 10.45 at St Mary's Church followed by a procession and service at the War Memorial on the Heugh.

Leaving Service : As you know our vicar, Paul, is retiring and there will be a special leaving service for him and Pauline at St Marys Church on Sunday 26th November 10.45 followed by refreshments. Please come and join us.

Sunday services (unchanged)
Holy Communion (BCP)   8am
Parish Communion   10.45am
Evening Prayer   5.30pm

Winter Pattern of worship for Weekdays
Morning Prayer   8amMonday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Holy Communion   8amWednesday and Friday
Evening Prayer   5.30pmEvery day


meet our hospice team