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Hopes excavation unearths remains predating priory ruins on island famous for St Cuthbert and Lindisfarne Gospels
Archaeologists are to launch a search on Holy Island in Northumberland for the monastery where one of the most beautiful books in western Europe, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was made.
The quest may puzzle tourists since the romantic priory ruins have been a magnet for artists and photographers for centuries. However the ruins, on an island connected by a causeway accessible only at low tide, date from early in the 12th century. The original monastery was founded by the Irish monk Aidan in 635 and sacked by the Vikings 160 years later.
“Most of Aidan’s monastery probably lies under the modern village, and we’re not going to be able to knock that down – but we have had some encouraging geophysics results indicating structures under some areas of open ground which we will be able to get at,” said David Petts, a lecturer at Durham University and an expert on the history of Lindisfarne, who will lead the excavation team in June.
However, much of the hard labour will be done by members of the public who will be paying up to £525 a week – including copious mugs of tea but not accommodation – for the privilege. […]