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Sound of prayer returns to Holy Island church after 1000 years

The remains of an ancient church have been described as “probably the most significant archaeology find ever on Holy Island” ...

The sound of prayer returned to an island church after more than 1,000 years of silence, reports Chronicle Live in Newcastle

A community archaeology project on Holy Island, off Northumberland, has uncovered the complete outline and foundations of a church which could date back as far as the 7th century.

It would have been part of the monastery and a is a key, rediscovered link in the long Christian history of Holy Island.

On Tuesday, the Rev Paul Collins, Vicar of Holy Island and St Mary’s parish church, led a service within the boundaries of the newly-excavated church which has been lost for so many centuries.

Gathered in the nave were 30 youngsters from Holy Island and Lowick schools.

Visitors and islanders also watched on as prayers were said for the Northern saints Oswald, Aidan and Cuthbert, all of whom are associated with the island.

“It was a wonderful experience to hold the service there and to remember the people who worshipped in the church all those years ago,” said the Rev Collins.

“We had readings and prayers and celebrated the place as a church. The children had spoken to the archaeologists before the service and so had an understanding of what was going on.”

A total of around 60 people witnessed the event in rainy and cold conditions – no doubt familiar to the worshippers of more than a thousand years ago.

“Some things never change,” said the Rev Collins.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Newcastle said: “This is a highly significant find from a cultural and spiritual heritage perspective. We’ve always felt that there is more to be discovered in the area around St Mary’s church, so the discovery of this church, so well-preserved, is tremendously exciting.

“We are truly delighted that Paul Collins has been able to hold a prayer service to honour the building with its intended purpose. It feels like absolutely the right thing to do.”

The find has been described by Northumberland historic buildings expert, Peter Ryder, as “probably the most significant archaeology find ever on Holy Island.”

Main photo: Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Project


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