Scotch-Irish Cruise Journal—Day 3

Lindisfarne Causeway

Today we made our much anticipated trip to Lindisfarne.

Lindisfarne is a tidal island connected to the mainland of the northeastern coast of England by a causeway only accessible twice a day when the tidewaters recede.

By the time the Romans left England in 420 A.D. Christianity had arrived but just barely.

The Romans’ leaving left Christians in the north disconnected from the Roman church, and paganism began to take hold again.

Oswald, a king who had been raised in exile at the monastery established by Columba on the Isle of Iona, had vowed to bring Christianity back to his people in Northumbria.

After Oswald returned and established his reign over Northumbria, he sent to Iona requesting they send missionaries to help reestablish Christianity throughout the land.

After the first monk failed and returned to Iona, Aidan was sent. He established a priory on Lindisfarne and was very successful in making disciples throughout Northumbria. He was later replaced by Cuthbert, who successfully unified the practices of Irish Christianity, which had prevailed in the north as a result of Columba, with the Roman Christianity from the south (after Augustine evangelized from Canterbury).

As The Wife correctly summarized, Christianity came with the Romans to the Irish who brought it to the Scottish (the Picts). When Christianity returned to England through Augustine of Rome it was reunited in Scotland at the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD through the efforts of Cuthbert.

Iona and Lindisfarne are both islands where monks went to get away with God. It was also a place from which they went to take the gospel to England and Scotland. The islands are apt metaphors for the rhythm of life Christians are to lead. Christians should go away to a place with the Lord each morning from which we are empowered to go out and reach the world and make disciples. We are to be in the world but the source of our power comes from outside it.

There is not much to see on Lindisfarne today. There is a museum that tells the story of the island. There are ruins left of a later priory and church. Today, people make pilgrimages to the island and go on walks to find God. Maybe they haven’t figured out what I wrote in the previous paragraph. If you have to go to a tidal island to find God you have a serious logistical problem, and possibly a spiritual one.

I was also surprised to find the local hotel allows people to bring their dogs into the restaurant. Perhaps I would not object to sitting next to Greyfriar’s Bobby at lunch—if anyone deserves to enjoy fine dinning with humans it is him—but allowing just any dog into the restaurant is certainly not consistent with best practices and restaurant management. I’m sure Robert Irvine would agree with me.

In the winery at LIndisfarne, I did buy bottle of single malt scotch not sold outside of Scotland. When we were paying, recognizing we were American, the cashier asked about Donald Trump. With a horrified look on her face, she said, “He walked in front of the Queen, didn’t he?” She wasn’t asking so much as saying. It was an example of stereotypical English discretion and understatement. It seems rude to them to say, “He walked in front of the queen, that cheeky bloke.” So, they make the statement in the form of a question, as if seeking your approval. I didn’t have the heart to tell her he also cheated on his wife with a porn star and then paid to keep her quiet. Didn’t he?

Birthplace of John Knox

We left Lindisfarne and made a rush to Bamburgh in the hopes of the getting into the castle before it closed. Bamburgh is where Christian King Oswald had his government and is where in the twelfth century William the Conquerer built a magnificent castle. The castle closed just before we arrived, but we were able to get into St. Aidan’s Church. At the church is the beam Aidan was leaning against when he died on August 31, 651 A.D.. The beam is now supporting the ceiling of the  church.

We then drove an hour and fifteen minutes back to Haddington to find the birthplace of John Knox. If you follow this blog, you may remember that on our previous journey here we didn’t find out until too late about Knox’s birthplace in Haddington. We were successful this time. It’s not easy to find. It took some research, but we found it there by the river on Giffordgate marked by an oak tree and memorial stone.

After the Knox experience and several pictures, we dined up at the top of the street at The Golf Tavern, where I shocked the waitress by ordering a steak burger with haggis and blue cheese toppings. When I told her why we had come to Haddington, she said she didn’t even know where the Knox memorial was. It was only one-hundred yards down the road. I’m not even sure she knew who John Knox was.

As I finished my haggis burger, I mentioned that Knox probably never imagined when he was a child that 600 years later people would still be talking about him or traveling 6,000 miles to see where he was born. He also probably never imagined people would be eating haggis burgers. GS

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