Vandalism at St Cuthbert's Cave condemned
A cave where St Cuthbert’s body is said to have been lain to rest by monks more than 1,100 years ago has been roped off following vandalism.
Parts of St Cuthbert’s Cave, between Belford and Lowick, were ‘tagged’ in white spray paint earlier this year, while a fire caused the cave’s sandstone wall to crack and fall.
It has resulted in the National Trust roping it off for the first time in its history in an attempt to prevent further damage.
The site, also known as Cuddy’s Cave, forms part of the popular St Cuthbert’s Way, the 62.5-mile (100km) walking route between Melrose in the Scottish Borders and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
It is thought the monks of Lindisfarne laid St Cuthbert’s body to rest there in AD875 after finally abandoning the monastery in response to the threat of Viking raids.
More recently the cave has been a consecrated gravesite, used as the final resting place of the Leather family of Middleton Hall who owned the land before gifting it to the National Trust in 1981. Memorials to members of the family can be seen on the rocks around the cave.
The vandalism has been condemned by local county councillors.
Cllr Colin Hardy, recently elected Conservative councillor for Norham and Islandshires, said: "Mindless vandalism of such a popular and sacred site will never be tolerated.
"I've been going to the cave my whole life and never seen anything like this. I hope whoever did this is caught and the book thrown at them.
"As the new county councillor, I want to work with the National Trust and any other local stakeholders to do what it takes to stop anything like this happening again.”
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, who represents the neighbouring Bamburgh ward, added: “The attack on Cuddy’s cave is deeply saddening.
"I've been going there for as long as I can remember. Our middle school sponsored walk from Belford was to the cave and back,” he recalled.
"The idea of it being spoilt by inconsiderate visitors, and then in turn spoilt by signs and barriers is terrible. People have been carving their names into the rocks for centuries but this is unacceptable.”