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Holy Island

Happened a few years ago: Roman Polanski's film Cul-De-Sac was on the television. Cool, a Polanski I hadn't seen yet. It was rather an unusual modern crime story set up in very unusual premises - in a 16th century castle on a tidal island. The beginning of the film depicted quite an unforgettable situation where the road to the island was submerged by the high tide, and people in the castle watched a car stuck in the middle of the causeway, about to be washed away by the sea.

Sea bottom
The film was excellent and the weird location even more intriguing. The almighty internet confirmed that the place was real, the island of Lindisfarne, the name is actually mentioned in the movie too. In addition to the castle there is also a monastery ruins from the 7th century and a little village, both of which had been left out of the Polanski movie. The island and nearby Bamburgh castle also play significant role in Bernard Cornwell's great Saxon Stories. Bamburgh is actually visible from the island. Our next trip to the United Kingdom provided us an opportunity to go see the actual place.

The locals advised to take the timetables seriously into account when crossing the causeway to the island. Every year several cars (mostly tourists and daredevils) get stranded on the causeway by a high tide. There even is a small hut built on poles at the middle point of the causeway where you hopefully can wade into safety if you're about to get washed into the sea. Once the causeway and the surrounding sea bottom are dry, it's possible to stop in the middle part of the causeway and go walk where the sea was just a while ago.

Monastery ruins
The island is famous also for the Lindisfarne Mead that is sold near the monastery ruins. Undoubtedly the recipe is more than 1000 years old, who knows, officially they have made the present product since 1960's. The mead was a pleasant new acquaintance once we got home and had a taste of what we had bought. Way different from the Finnish variety of mead, sima, which we drink around the May Day. I can imagine the happy vikings carrying barrels after barrels into their ships once they had raided the monastery brew house.

The castle is also open for visitors. It's worth seeing, even without seeing the Polanski film, but it's always cool to visit real places that have been used as film sets. The castle itself looks somewhat out-of-the-place standing alone on top of a rock on otherwise rather flat island. The climb on the cobblestones is steep, so as a fortification the castle, being rather small, seems it might've worked well for the purpose. Nowadays the sheep are the only invaders around the castle area.

Some other guy's (Ian Britton photo. We didn't get to see this happening...

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