Skeletons discovered under Holy Island car park could date back to early medieval period

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Seven skeletons have been discovered in graves beneath a Lindisfarne car park during construction work.

The graves were found before the new year by Northumberland County Council archaeologists during work to install a new water pipe.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council, assistant county archaeologist Nick Best told councillors about the findings.

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He said: “This is a hot off the press find from just before the new year under the former car park which is now a coach park. Teams uncovered a group of burials of at least seven individuals.

Holy Island.Holy Island.
Holy Island.

“The assumption is there is probably more. We haven’t dated them yet, but they might be medieval, it’s very likely they’re medieval and there’s a chance they could be very early medieval.

“They’re very interesting remains. There was just enough risk that we decided to do it.

“We should be able to get some radio carbon dates from them.”

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Lindisfarne has a long and storied history – the monastery there was founded in around 634 by Irish monk St Aidan. Northumberland’s patron saint, St Cuthbert, was abbot of the monastery and later Bishop of Lindisfarne, while another famous Northumbrian figure – St Bede – chronicled his life.

The famous Lindisfarne Gospels were made on the island, while in 793 the monastery was raided by Vikings, which many historians consider to be the start of the Viking age.

The council is set to release further information, and some images of the findings, at a later date.