21 November 2009

Lindisfarne Castle

It just occurred to me that Nana and I are headed on a new day-trip adventure tomorrow, and we still haven't finished blogging about the last two! So without further ado, here's another installment on Lindisfarne (you can find the first post here.) This post will deal with Lindisfarne Castle; a future post, I hope, will touch on the silliness surrounding the Lindisfarne causeway.

First, calling Lindisfarne Castle a castle is a bit of a misnomer: it's a tiny thing, really more of a fort, perched on an incongruous crag that juts out of a low field at the southern end of the island.



The castle, originally built in the 16th century, is the smallest of a string of fortresses along the coast of Northumberland designed to protect the surrounding countryside and, more importantly, the sea lanes from the Scots. Lindisfarne Castle stands guard over a natural harbor that was used as a staging area for various campaigns throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

It also stands guard over several very strategic sheep.

Lindisfarne had at least a small role to play in nearly every major conflict in Britain during those centuries: the castle and its nearby harbor were used during the time of the Border Reivers, the English Civil Wars, and pretty much every last one of the half-dozen Jacobite Risings between 1688 and 1745. It was during this latter period that Lindisfarne Castle was somewhat farcically captured by an overwhelming force of two rowdy Jacobites who managed to hold the fort for about a day before surrendering to Hanoverian troops.

In the 1900s, the castle was converted into an utterly idiosyncratic country home, which now belongs to the National Trust. When we visited, they had a little Halloween scavenger hunt running, in which children (and childish adults like us) were tasked with finding a selection of ghoulish little things that had been hidden throughout the property.

At the foot of the castle, you can a modern example of some traditional Northumbrian architecture: a row of sheds made from the bottoms of herring boats that have been cut in half. Easy to waterproof and aerodynamic, both of which are important if you want your stuff to live through a winter on the North Sea!

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