Biography All Music GuideWikipedia
All Music Guide:
Lindisfarne barely command more than a footnote in most rock reference books. During the early '70s, however, Lindisfarne were one of the hottest folk-based rock bands in England, with chart placements on two of their albums that rivaled Jethro Tull, and had them proclaimed one of the most important groups of the decade. With a sound that mixed plaintive folk-like melodies, earthy but well-sung harmonies, and acoustic and electric textures, the group seemed poised for international success, when a series of unfortunate artistic decisions, followed by a split in their lineup, left them bereft of audience and success.
Singer/guitarist Alan Hull (b. Feb. 20, 1945), guitarist Simon Cowe (b. Apr. 1, 1948), mandolin player Ray Jackson (b. Dec. 12, 1948), bassist/violinist Rod Clements (b. Nov. 17, 1947), and drummer Ray Laidlaw (b. May 28, 1948) all hailed from Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and the surrounding area. At some point, they were known as Downtown Faction, but they took their familiar musical form under the name Brethren. The band became a very popular act on the college circuit, playing what was known as "good-time" music, singalong numbers resembling (or directly derived from) pub songs in which audiences could luxuriate, usually with Jackson's harmonica honking along. Alan Hull had a background in folk music that enabled him to freely incorporate that influence, and he was the major songwriter and singer in the band.
In 1968, they discovered that an American group was already using the name Brethren, and the Newcastle group rechristened itself Lindisfarne, taken from the name of an island off the coast of Northumberland in Northern England -- the island Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island) is most famous for its early medieval monastery and castle and the ancient "Lindisfarne Gospels" medieval manuscript. The new name fit the times and the group's sound, which was evolving in the direction of folk-style music. The group was signed to Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records, England's premiere progressive rock label, in 1970.
They released their first (and best) album, Nicely Out of Tune, that same year. Their debut album captured the group's best attributes, a rollicking, upbeat, optimistic collection of hippie/folk music, somewhere midway between Fairport Convention and the early Grateful Dead, with a peculiarly urban, English working-class ambience. Their "Englishness," coupled with the occasionally uneven quality of their songwriting, may explain one major reason why Lindisfarne never achieved more than a tiny cult following in the United States. Nicely Out of Tune contained one wistfully romantic number, "Lady Eleanor," which became a favorite number in the band's concert repertoire, and seemed destined to find an audience. The album and the "Lady Eleanor" single failed to chart, but Lindisfarne's live shows only grew in popularity -- by the end of 1970, they were able to ask for £1500 a night from promoters, a far cry from the £300 they had been getting on the college circuit.
Their second album, Fog on the Tyne, released in 1971, marked their commercial breakthrough -- a collection of earthy, folk-type pub songs, Fog on the Tyne entered the British charts in October of that year and began a slow climb into the middle reaches. In February of 1972, however, the group's label belated issued a single from the album, "Meet Me on the Corner." That record was number five on the charts the following month, while Fog on the Tyne suddenly rose to the number one spot. Within a matter of weeks, Nicely Out of Tune entered the charts for the first time and eventually hit number eight; "Lady Eleanor," reissued in June of 1972, made it to number three.
That was when the media hype kicked in, raising expectations and aspirations for a group that, until four months earlier, had been a pleasant folk-rock outfit with a solid cult following. Alan Hull was referred to in the press as the most important new songwriter since Bob Dylan, and Lindisfarne were saddled with the designation as "the 1970s Beatles." Up to this time, the group had played in England and Wales, but, apart from one show in Scotland and individual forays to Paris and Holland, its members hadn't even pondered the notion or implications of an international career. It all seemed too good to last, and it was.
Later in 1972, after a frantic period capitalizing on one massive success after another, the band released its third album, Dingly Dell. The album was troubled from the start. The record's producer was Bob Johnston, the American who had worked on Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, among many other records, and who had also produced Fog on the Tyne. The bandmembers had a falling out with Johnston over Dingly Dell, and remixed the album themselves immediately prior to release. The resulting record had a very crisp sound, very up-front, and more of a mainstream hard rock sound than their previous two long-players. Unfortunately, this was not the move that the critics had wanted or expected of the band -- they wanted a richer, more progressive folk-type sound, in some ways closer to Fairport Convention, not the harder, more basic sound that they found here. Additionally, the songwriting didn't match the prior two albums, and nobody was drawing comparisons between Alan Hull and Dylan over the songs on Dingly Dell.
Ironically, this album came out at just about the time Lindisfarne were in the process of gaining a small following in America, although they never really had much chance of succeeding. Their association with Charisma Records meant that they were afforded a listen by the American progressive rock audience, and to some limited extent their mixture of folk and rock was "progressive." In reality, Lindisfarne were closer in spirit and music to such hard-rocking bands as Brinsley Schwarz, Bees Make Honey, and Eggs Over Easy, utterly lacking the pretensions needed for a prog rock band.
Under other circumstances, the album would have been passed over by most critics as nothing more than a slightly disappointing lapse, but reviewers and journalists seemed bent on revenge for Lindisfarne's failure to rise to the praise and hype lavished on them over the previous year. The record and the group were universally savaged, although Dingly Dell still got to number five on the charts and yielded one modest hit, "All Fall Down." They toured America, but discovered that American listeners and critics found their sound too peculiarly English -- in the wrong ways -- to really accept Lindisfarne. The group was never remotely as popular as its Charisma labelmates Genesis, who were eagerly snapped up by Atlantic Records once their Charisma contract was up.
Cowe, Laidlaw, and Clements exited the band in early 1973 and formed a new group called Jack the Lad, which specialized in a harder, more basic pub rock sound, and went on to release three albums on Charisma. A live Lindisfarne album, featuring the original lineup and songs mostly from the first three albums, was issued by Charisma in 1973, but it was at best a holding action. Later that year, Alan Hull and Ray Jackson were back leading a new Lindisfarne lineup, featuring Ken Craddock on guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Charlie Harcourt on guitars; Tommy Duffy on bass and vocals; and Paul Nichols on drums. Their first album, Roll on Ruby, was a critical and commercial failure. Hull embarked on a solo recording career at around this same time, which seemed to draw away still more of the band's original audience. As the principal songwriter and voice of the group, and one of two original members, he held Lindisfarne's public better than the new Lindisfarne did.
The band switched to Warner Bros. for its next album, Happy Daze, which fared no better. By 1977, Jack the Lad had called it quits and Cowe, Clements, and Laidlaw were back with Lindisfarne. Hull also recorded with Laidlaw and Craddock under the group name Radiator on the Rocket label, releasing a single album, entitled Isn't It Strange. Lindisfarne switched labels again to Mercury and debuted with a double live album, Magic in the Air, with songs drawn from the group's first three albums. The band remained intact and on Mercury for two more long-players, released to little lasting commercial avail: Back and Fourth (1978), which yielded a pair of modest hits in Alan Hull's "Run for Home," a song that sounds more like Springsteen than Springsteen does, and "Warm Feeling"; and The News (1979). They remained a reasonably popular concert attraction -- especially in Newcastle and the surrounding area -- into the early '80s, and have continued to record and reunite for concerts periodically in the years since. During the early '80s, they organized Lindisfarne Musical Productions and began releasing their work on the LMP label, including a live album cut in 1983. Their live recordings, featuring new renditions of their classic early-'70s material, seem to draw the greatest enthusiasm. Hull also maintained a separate solo career until his 1995 passing. Fans of the group should definitely own his Back to Basics CD, featuring live acoustic versions of his best songs dating back to 1970.
The isle of Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the northeast coast of England. It is also known amongst some as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland. Both the Parker Chronicle and Peterborough Chronicle annals of AD 793 record the Old English name, Lindisfarena, which means "[island of the] travellers from Lindsey", indicating the island was settled from the Kingdom of Lindsey, or possibly that its inhabitants travelled there.
Geography and Population 
The island measures 2¼ miles from east to west and 1½ miles from north to south, and comprises approximately 1,000 acres (4.04 km.) at high tide. The island is located about 2 miles from the mainland of England. The isle of Lindisfarne is located along the northeast coast of England, close to the border with Scotland. It is accessible, most times, at low-tide by crossing sand and mud flats which are covered with water at high tides. These sand and mud flats carry an ancient pilgrim’s path, and in more recent times, a modern causeway. Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, which protects the island’s sand dunes and the adjacent intertidal habitats. In 2001, the island had a population of 162.
Community Trust Fund / Holy Island Partnership 
In response to the perceived lack of affordable housing on the isle of Lindisfarne, a group of islanders established a charitable foundation known as the 'Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust' in 1996. They built a visitor centre on the island using the profits from sales. In addition, eleven community houses which are rented out to community members who want to continue to stay on the island were built. The trust is also responsible for management of the inner harbour. The Holy Island Partnership was formed in 2009 by members of the community as well as organisations and groups operating on the island.
Warning signs urge visitors walking to the island to keep to the marked path, check tide times and weather carefully, and to seek local advice if in doubt. For drivers, tide tables are prominently displayed at both ends of the causeway and where the Holy Island road leaves the A1 Great North Road at Beal. The causeway is generally open from about 3 hours after high tide until 2 hours before the next high tide, but the period of closure may be extended during stormy weather.
Despite these warnings, about one vehicle each month is stranded on the causeway, requiring rescue by either Seahouses Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat or RAF helicopter. A sea rescue costs approximately £1,900, while an air rescue costs more than £4,000. Locals have opposed a causeway barrier primarily on convenience grounds.
Tourism has grown steadily throughout the twentieth century, and the isle of Lindisfarne is now a popular destination for visitors to the area. Those tourists staying on the island while it is cut off by the tide can experience the island in a much quieter state, as most day trippers leave before the tide rises. At low tide it is possible to walk across the sands following an ancient route known as Pilgrims' Way. This route is marked with posts and has refuge boxes for stranded walkers, just as the road has a refuge box for those who have left their crossing too late. The isle of Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve which attracts bird-watchers to the tidal island.
The island of Lindisfarne appears under the Old Welsh name Medcaut in the ninth-century Historia Brittonum. Following up on a suggestion by Richard Coates, Andrew Breeze proposes that the name ultimately derives from Latin Medicata (Insula) "Healing (Island)", owing perhaps to the island's reputation for medicinal herbs. The Historia Brittonum recounts how in the sixth century, Urien, prince of Rheged, besieged the Angles led by Theodoric at the island for three days and three nights.
Lindisfarne Priory 
The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded by Irish monk Saint Aidan, who had been sent from Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria at the request of King Oswald ca. AD 635. It became the base for Christian evangelising in the North of England and also sent a successful mission to Mercia. Monks from the Irish community of Iona settled on the island. Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and later Abbot of the monastery, and his miracles and life are recorded by the Venerable Bede. Cuthbert later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. He was buried here, his remains later translated to Durham Cathedral (along with the relics of Saint Eadfrith of Lindisfarne). Eadberht of Lindisfarne, the next bishop (and Saint) was buried in the place from which Cuthbert's body was exhumed earlier the same year when the priory was abandoned in the late ninth century.
At some point in the early 700s the famous illuminated manuscript known as the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illustrated Latin copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, was made probably at Lindisfarne and the artist was possibly Eadfrith, who later became Bishop of Lindisfarne. Sometime in the second half of the tenth century a monk named Aldred added an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) gloss to the Latin text, producing the earliest surviving Old English copies of the Gospels. The Gospels were illustrated in an insular style containing a fusion of Celtic, Germanic and Roman elements; they were probably originally covered with a fine metal case made by a hermit called Billfrith.
Vikings The Ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, by Thomas Girtin, 1798
In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne caused much consternation throughout the Christian west and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records:
In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria. There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and on 8 January the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne.
The more popularly accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is 8 June; Michael Swanton, editor of Routledge's edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, writes "vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (June 8) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids."
Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne's court at the time, wrote:
Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.
Viking raids in 875 led to the monks' fleeing the island with St. Cuthbert's bones (which are now buried at the Cathedral in Durham). The bishopric was transferred to Durham in AD 1000. The Lindisfarne Gospels now reside in the British Library in London, somewhat to the annoyance of some Northumbrians. The priory was re-established in Norman times in 1093 as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII.
Sir Walter Scott 
A causeway connects the island to the mainland of Northumberland and is flooded twice a day by tides – something well described by Sir Walter Scott:For with the flow and ebb, its styleVaries from continent to isle;Dry shod o'er sands, twice every day,The pilgrims to the shrine find way;Twice every day the waves effaceOf staves and sandalled feet the trace.
Lime Kilns 
A Dundee firm built lime kilns on Lindisfarne in the 1860s, and lime was burnt on the island until at least the end of the 19th century. Horses carried limestone, along the Holy Island Waggonway, from a quarry on the north side of the island to the lime kilns, where it was burned with coal transported from Dundee, Scotland. Workings on the lime kilns stopped by the start of the 20th century.
The lime kilns on Lindisfarne are among the few being actively preserved in Northumberland.
Present day 
The island is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Northumberland Coast . The ruined monastery is in the care of English Heritage, which also runs a museum/visitor centre nearby. The neighbouring parish church (see below) is still in use.
Lindisfarne also has the small Lindisfarne Castle, based on a Tudor fort, which was refurbished in the Arts and Crafts style by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the editor of Country Life, Edward Hudson. Lutyens also designed the island's Celtic-cross war-memorial on the Heugh. Lutyens' upturned herring buses near the foreshore provided the inspiration for Spanish architect Enric Miralles' Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.
One of the most celebrated gardeners of modern times, Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932), laid out a tiny garden just north of the castle in 1911. The castle, garden and nearby limekilns are in the care of the National Trust and open to visitors.
Turner, Thomas Girtin and Charles Rennie Mackintosh all painted on Holy Island.
Lindisfarne had a large lime burning industry, and the kilns are among the most complex in Northumberland. There are still some traces of the jetties by which the coal was imported and the lime exported close by at the foot of the crags. Lime was quarried on the Island and the remains of the wagon way between the quarries and the kilns makes for a pleasant and easy walk. This quarrying flourished in the mid-19th century during the Industrial Revolution when over 100 men were thus employed. Crinoid columnals extracted from the quarried stone and threaded into necklaces or rosaries became known as St Cuthbert's beads.
Holy Island was considered part of the Islandshire unit along with several mainland parishes. This came under the jurisdiction of the County Palatine of Durham until the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844.
Lindisfarne was mainly a fishing community for many years, with farming and the production of lime also of some importance.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is well known for mead. In the medieval days when monks inhabited the island, it was thought that if the soul was in God's keeping, the body must be fortified with Lindisfarne Mead. The monks have long vanished, and the mead's recipe remains a secret of the family which still produces it. Lindisfarne mead is produced at St Aidan's Winery, and sold throughout the UK and elsewhere.
The isle of Lindisfarne was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the North. The Lindisfarne Gospels have also featured on television among the top few Treasures of Britain. It also features in an ITV Tyne Tees programme Diary of an Island which started on 19 April 2007 and on a DVD of the same name.
Trinity House operates two lighthouses to guide vessels entering Holy Island Harbour, named Guile Point East and Heugh Hill. The former is one of a pair of stone obelisks standing constructed on a sandy spit on the south side of the entrance to the Harbour to act as a day mark. Since the early 1990s, a light has been fixed to it about one-third of the way up. The latter is a metal framework tower with a red triangular day mark.
Not a lighthouse but simply a day mark for maritime navigation, a white brick pyramid, 35 feet high and built in 1810, stands at Emmanuel Head, the north eastern point of Lindisfarne.
In modern culture 
In film Lindisfarne (particularly the castle) is the setting of the Roman Polanski film Cul-de-Sac (1966) with Donald Pleasence and Lionel Stander, shot entirely on location there. The island is semi-fictionalised into "Lindisfarne Island" and the castle is "Rob Roy". There is no village. The tide rises round a car which is stuck on the causeway; also featured are the characteristic sheds made from local fishing boats, inverted and cut in half. These may still be seen on the island.
In print The sack of Lindisfarne monastery by a fleet of opportunistic Vikings is a pivotal event in Charles Barnitz' historical fantasy/adventure, The Deepest Sea (1995).Lindisfarne plays a key role in Conqueror (2007), the second book of the Time's Tapestry series by Stephen Baxter.The monastery and monks of Lindisfarne are an important part of British author/broadcastor Melvyn Bragg's epic, historically based novel Credo (1996).Lindisfarena plays an important role in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series (2004-).A two-part story in DC Comics' Vertigo series Northlanders, for instance, concerns the destruction on the monastery.Lindisfarne is referred to as The Holy Isle in Nancy Farmer's book The Sea of Trolls (2004), which also references the Norse invasion of Lindisfarne.Lindesfarne is part of a quest given to Geirolf Ericsson, by his father, in the book The Last Viking (2011) by Sandra Hill.Department 19 (2011), a fiction book by Will Hill, concludes on Lindisfarne.The novel Dragon Under the Hill (1972), by former newsreader Gordon Honeycombe, is set on Holy Island.A thinly disguised version of Lindisfarne is the setting for the Lyndesfarne Bridge quartet of modern fantasy novels by Trevor Hopkins.The Quiet Isle, a location in the fictional series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin, has many traits resembling Lindisfarne, including tidal based access and a monastic community.Lindisfarne and Holy Island were used in J.P. Moore's novel Toothless (2010) as a staging area by the Knights Templar for an attack against the Black Yew.Lindisfarne is known as Holy Island and The New Beginning in Brother in the Land (1984) by Robert Swindells.Wells Tower's short story, "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" (2009), is centered around a Viking raid on Lindisfarne.Lindisfarne is where the main character of Harry goes to on pilgrimage in the book The Kingdom by the Sea (1990) by Robert Westall. St. Cuthbert, Lindisfarne, and the Viking raid are also focal points of Westall's The Wind Eye.
In music 
Aspects of the history and legends concerning Lindisfarne and the monastery have occasionally found their way into the lyrics and concepts of bands, musicians and composers.An example is the 40-part choral motet Love You Big as the Sky by British composer Peter McGarr (commissioned for the Tallis Festival 2007). Subtitled "a Lindisfarne Love Song", it includes poems about Lindisfarne and the detailed geography of the area, including ship wrecks and lighthouses.The British folk/rock band Lindisfarne (1969–2003), was named after the island, while a Celtic Christian progressive rock band named after another island, Iona, has a song devoted to Lindisfarne on its album Journey into the Morn (1995).The carriage of the remains of St Cuthbert from Lindisfarne to Durham is the subject of "The Road from Lindisfarne", the third movement of the Durham Concerto (2007) by Jon Lord. A theme which has been especially popular with metal bands of different genres and styles is the Viking invasion of AD 793. These range from heavy metal or power metal bands like Stormwarrior and Rebellion to more extreme bands such as Enslaved, Ancient Rites and Behemoth.Singer-songwriter James Blake included a two-part suite about Lindisfarne on his self-titled debut album (2011).English folk musician Matt Seattle wrote a tune in 1990 entitled "Lindisfarne" The following is copied from his publishing website, dragonflymusic.co.uk
Composed in 1990 before I took up the pipes, Lindisfarne is my most recorded and requested tune. It is an air, not a waltz, and I find it wants to be played more slowly now than on the recordings. It appears elsewhere on the www, mostly in unauthorised and incorrect versions.