Two national nature reserves are coming together to celebrate the ‘fire of the north’ by lighting a memorial beacon on Inner Farne.
With the Lindisfarne Gospels – dedicated to Cuthbert – currently on display in Durham, Natural England and the National Trust are celebrating their links with Northumberland’s very own Saint, who is known as the ‘fire of the north’.
On Wednesday, September 4 they will re-enact the moment when monks on Inner Farne announced the death of Cuthbert - who spent much of his life on Lindisfarne and, as a hermit, retreated to the Farne Islands - by lighting a signal flame.
Lindisfarne Reserve manager Andrew Craggs explained: “Our volunteer warden John Woodhurst leads walks and talks for us on Cuthbert and his local links.
“Chatting with John one day we came up with the idea of re-enacting the moment when monks on the Inner Farne announced the death of Cuthbert by signalling to monks on Lindisfarne.”
The Venerable Bede recounts that a monk on the Inner Farne “lit two torches and holding one in each hand went onto some higher ground to show the Lindisfarne monastery, for this was the sign they had agreed upon among themselves”.
That was on March 20, 687, a date now celebrated as Cuthbert’s feast day.
John, who is also a local historian, said: “It seems strange ‘celebrating’ a death but Cuthbert was probably bigger and more famous in death than life.
“We missed the March date so we’re now going ahead with our event on September 4 which is another date in the calendar when Cuthbert is celebrated. It also ties in nicely with the Lindisfarne Gospels being in Durham.”
During the event Farne Islands head ranger David Steel and his wardens will light a fire on the Inner Farne. It is hoped the fire will be seen all along the north Northumbrian coast.
David said: “We’ve had a practice run and I’m confident it will be alright on the night!”
For a fortunate few there will be the opportunity to see the Inner Farne fire from the Look-Out Tower on Lindisfarne. Places are limited to 20 but at 8pm on September 4 John will lead a group from the Window on Wildlife Building across the harbour to the Heugh to view the Farne fire.