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Foundations discovered on Lindisfarne of what may be largest and earliest Saxon church in the area

Foundations of church discovered on Lindisfarne Credit: Diocese of Newcastle

The foundations of what may be one of the largest and earliest Saxon churches in the area have been discovered on the south of Lindisfarne.

Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership are responsible for the dig, which has uncovered the enormous sandstone blocks used in the foundations.

They are almost complete and give a clear picture of what the church may have been like.

It could be the earliest known stone church, and it would have required considerable manpower to move the stone blocks to the top of the hill.

The Revd Paul Collins, Vicar of Holy Island, is proposing to hold a Eucharist service in the church ahead of it having to be returned to its original state by the end of the week. This is because of Natural England regulations and the site being on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). He said:

"I feel it is important to honour this ancient building before it is covered up again. There are traditional tales of two chapels on Lindisfarne: one is St Cuthbert of the Sea, which is probably the building on a small island adjacent to Lindisfarne, but the other is St Cuthbert of the Sky. This may well be the church we have just uncovered.”

– The Revd Paul Collins

In the 1960s and 1970s, an archaeologist called Brian Hope Taylor conducted many digs on Holy Island. Although he never published his work, his hand-written notes suggest he may have discovered the church already.