The Fresh Loaf

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The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland. UK. 18th March 2012

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ananda's picture
ananda

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland. UK. 18th March 2012

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland. UK.

18th March 2012

David Snyder and I were enjoying a conversation in his thread on his lovely baking of last weekend.   See here, there are 3 comments to read:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/27810/last-weekends-breads#comment-208809

David ended up asking me what bakers do to procrastinate and put off what they really should be doing [ie. making bread, of course!]   Well, here is my answer, provided in the best way I can think of, including a visit to a medieval bakehouse!

Whilst I hanker for mountains, Alison is very much a sea lover.   Yesterday we did some shopping and cleaning after enjoying a lie-in.   Today we went to the seaside!   Not just any old seaside, of course; this happens to be a place Alison thinks is as lovely as anywhere else in the world.   On days like today it is very difficult to argue with that.   And it’s an island, less than one hour’s drive from where we live!   And it was cut off today from 09:50 until 14:05.   We had the place virtually to ourselves.

First of all we went to the Lindisfarne Musuem, then to the Priory.   This is the first time I’ve been to these places since visiting them on a School trip as an “A” Level History student some 29 years ago!   To give some context, the old Kingdom of Northumbria was the last of the old Kingdoms of what became England to hold on to Celtic Christianity instead of switching allegiance to Rome.   The Synod of Whitby in 664 AD became the last chance saloon as the Northumbrian king gave way.   All of this has been famously documented by Bede of Jarrow, and the centre of the Lindisfarne story of this time is the work of St. Cuthbert who eventually became a somewhat reluctant Bishop of Durham.

So, the Priory.   Here is a lovely photograph.   It is fantastically preserved really, given some parts date to the 10th Century.

From the 15th Century part of the Priory, we found this:

And this is the oven!

After an early lunch next to the sea and close to the Castle, we set off for a walk taking in the north-eastern tip of the island; truly stunning coastal scenery.

As we looked back to the Cheviots, from whence we had come, all was a little cloudy.

Meantime we basked in sunshine, taking in views of both Lindisfarne Castle

and Bamburgh Castle.

Onto the beach; this is typical of the Dunes which are such a feature of the fabulous Northumberland Coast, along with the Castles, of course.

At the end of the time spent on the beaches we found a hut which we believe to be a Shrine, which touched us both considerably.   This beach stone structure seems to have been recently been erected by a couple as monument to the baby they tragically lost.   Apparently the Planning Authority are none too happy about it; how typical, have they no heart or soul?

Well it’s back to more serious work tomorrow, early doors, with 2 days to complete the next assignment for my MSc and Alison back to the grindstone managing education provision for those around Northumberland not currently in school, for one reason or another.

What a beautiful place to have spent our Sunday!

Best wishes

Andy

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Andy,

Your entry threw me back to high school and what we were taught about England when we studied World History.....How does one really study World History in one year.....not very well.  I do remember England though and all of the different stages it went through BUT I was totally clueless as to what any of it meant as it was all dates and battles and THOUSANDS of years of them, which, for this American born student, was incomprehensible when the country I was born into was soooo young in comparison

My delving into the history of the world took off once I was out of school and could read about history through the events of the people who lived in the places I read about....not so much the battles and dates and I learned there was a huge world out there that our World History courses didn't even touch....

Anyway, thanks for sharing your day's trek here along with the beautiful photos.  Still just stuns me to see structures built by people so long ago that are still standing....such an expression of the labors of our ancestors as they struggled to protect themselves from the elements, their enemies as well as from the unknown.....

Take Care,

Janet

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You were somehow drawn to a castle bakehouse. :-) I'm impressed with how well preserved the signage is.

Well, when we visited Bologna last Spring, I did enjoy visiting the 16th Century anatomy theater in the old univerity.

Thanks for sharing!

David

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David,

The Priory is maintained, and sometimes restored where possible/necessary by English Heritage.   The whole area has neat signs like this in place.   They are new, but made to high and tasteful standard.

The Priory was the dwelling for Monks; although they didn't do the baking themselves, nor the brewing in the brewhouse next door.   The Castle on Lindisfarne is a few 00 metres away, on a small hillock right at the water's edge.

Thanks for your comments

Best wishes

Andy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Andy,
It looks like you both had a wonderful day!
I wonder how many loaves of bread were baked in that old, old oven / when the last time it was actually fired?
It is really interesting to see, and read about, your historic and beautiful part of the world.
I'm with Alison, & love the seaside; seeing your photos, I can almost hear the waves washing up on the shore!
:^) breadsong

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi breadsong,

Well if you are talking about the large hearth loaves we both often post on, I'd say 15 to 20 at a time would be reasonable capacity judging by the stone floor surface area.   However, 15th Century Northumberland tended to produce much more rye grain I believe, and this in a time long before Canadian strong wheat was imported into industrial Britain!   So the types of bread produced on this oven would be very different indeed from what we think of as Hearth bread today.   The nearest equivalent would be the High Rye breads in Jeffrey Hamelman's book I suppose, although high gluten flour would not be available as an insurance policy that is certain, nor would baker's yeast, of course.   However, there was a brewhouse nextdoor, so that is where the yeast would come from in the form of ale barm.

The Priory fell out of use in the 16th Century with the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry v111

It is also the sound of the sea which is so mesmirising for Alison.

Lovely to hear from you

All good wishes

Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Janet,

I've studied very little History since completing a very average Honours Degree a long time ago.   But, I did enjoy the preceding "A" Level, strangely enough.

The post today was really to tell of a great day Alison and I enjoyed together in a special place with great weather too.

It's very good to hear from you, as always

Best wishes

Andy

yozzause's picture
yozzause

What a nice post on a nice little spot, it' s quite amazing the places that are on our doorstep that we either don't visit or pass by all the time. terrific pictures too

My holiday is rapidly approaching  and i am so looking forward to it. a total of 4 months away from work. Getting back to the Old Country visiting friends and relatives, but first

The 3 Cunard Queens  Royal Rendezvous,  Victoria to the Baltic , Elizabeth to the Mediteranean and in Sothampton when the moanarch Queen Elizabeth 11  visits the 3 Queens as part of her Jubilee celebrations and final Queen Mary 2 across to France Holland and Belgium. 35 days cruising

Then travelling  around the UK starting in Hampshire and driving up through the country hoping to catch up with you Andy and any other TFL members that would care to catch up  (pm me) before ending up in Glasgow to fly back to dear old Aus with a stop over in Dubai and hopefully meeting Khalid ( mebake) there.

YOZZA

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Derek,

I wish you "bon voyage"!   And will pm you for more details so we can meet up

All good wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Fascinating post.   Curious about that pyramidal structure right on the shore.   That wasn't the baby memorial was it?    If that's public land, no one would be allowed to build on it around here no matter what.   They could buy a bench for the town (design chosen by historical districts commission) with a little plaque on it, but that's around it.   All towns around here were settled by Europeans in the 1600s while previous inhabitants were decimated by (European) diseases from earlier visits and then even more greatly reduced in wars later in the century.   So that's as old as it gets in these parts.   How cool to live with so many more layers of the past around.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

The white pyramid is on the very NE tip of the island, and probably serves as a warning to those out to sea. The memorial stone hut is the last photo, with me sitting on a stone bench which circuits the little round structure. It is really quite lovely, and only built very recently indeed. We didn't go too close to the Pyramid this time. But yes, the Priory and Museum have artefacts all the way from the 7th Century through to 16th Century. Thank you as always for commenting.

Very best wishes

Andy

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks Andy!

My family visited Lindesfarne two years ago after I received my Doctorate at Leeds. It is a wonderful site! We loved the whole coast! Great castles! Thanks for the reminder of a great trip!

Loved the Bake House!

Jay

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Just think.  In another 500 years or so, if history repeats itself as it is likely to do, someone from the English Heritage Society will place a sign on your un-restored oven that says.  Andy's Oven - 2010.  Sounds like you two had a nice relaxing break at a fine sea side panorama.  Still surprised you didn't light a fire in that old oven though :-)

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi dabrownman,

many in the food industry would dismiss my oven and bakery ethos as a trip back in time.   Of course I am convinced mine is a forward vision; maybe in 500 years this will be manifest?

Still, I reckon the English Heritage "police" would not have been too happy about me lighting a fire atop a 600 year old protected structure somehow!?

Good to hear from you

Best wishes

Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jay,

Thank you very much for your comments.

I doubt that anyone who visits the Northumberland Coast leaves in anyway disappointed.   However if you were celebrating the award of a PhD at the time I'm sure you would have enjoyed a really special time.

Best wishes to you

Andy

longhorn's picture
longhorn


We celebrated daily with local ales. Stayed at Seahouses several nights. Then across to the Lake District to the Drunken Duck Inn. The highlight though for us was the wild, haunted coast around Seahouses. And Lindesfarne was one of the real pleasures.

Again, thanks for refreshing my memories!

Jay

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I was watching the Two Fat Ladies on TV this weekend and they were at a Boy Scout Camp in Northumberland.  They went fishing and caught some Sea Bass and had the Boy Scouts dig a pit, line it with rocks and build a fire on top of it to heat them up.  Then they put some Bracken down on the hot stones, put the fish on it and then covered the fish with more Bracken and a heavy towel and left it for a hour or so to cook.   The fish came out great.  The whole time, I was wondering if you were one of those young men building that rock lined fire or had ever camped there?  My wife was amused when I told her I knew someone who lived in Northumberland.  When I told her about you, she told me.... I really don't know you:-)

ananda's picture
ananda

Well, that episode is now some 16 years old, DA!

Even so by that time I was way beyond age limit for being a boy scout!

Kielder Forest..now there's a wild place!

Best wishes

Andy

EvaB's picture
EvaB

and while I can agree that the hut built to memorialize a baby is beautiful, it is definitely not an old stucture so really shouldn't  stay. But it was a well built one at that.

@Varda we don't have even the structures from the 1600's here, since Alexander McKenzie visited in 1793, but the city of Fort St John, BC (tiny by most city standards) has celebrated its 300th birthday. And locally we did have an archeolgist excavate a cave along the shoreline of a local lake, and find that it had been used for ceremonial purposes as much as 10,000 years ago, so between the fossils (dinosaur age) and that, we do know that people were here, just didn't build large structures of any sort!

The thing is all the local kids of my age used to use the cave (mostly boys of course) to shelter in while fishing at the lake, and they built fires and roasted fish and grouse and of course told ghost tales! My DH remembers doing that when he was a teenager. These days you'd be arrested for tresspass, building a fire without a permit, and hunting and fishing without liscenses. Too bad!