Lindisfarne Lapwing

Photo by Gill Henwood

My friend Gill has just sent me this photo of an amazing willow sculpture on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It’s too splendid not to share! Especially as Gill has sent an accompanying reflection:

Holy Island weather cleared by late morning to a beautiful autumn afternoon. From the Heugh and the castle, the lighthouses on the Farne Islands were clearly visible and Bamburgh Castle towered over the sea. 

The willow woven lapwing  surveys the wildlife lough near the viewing centre. Calling birds were all around: overhead hanging on the breeze, feeding in the soft ground and shores, flocking together by the trees.
Seals bobbed up in the channel below the Heugh as the tide swept in, marooning island dwellers and visitors for the day (unless they had a boat, or could fly!)
Bladder wrack floated as the sea lifted its prostrate carpet from the wave cut platforms of rock, the lush seaweed dancing in the swirling currents with airy buoyancy – alive with joy.

In the church, the (renovated) hewn monks still carry St Cuthbert in his coffin, seeking safety and sanctuary, journey’s hasty start fleeing Holy Island, wandering to his final resting place in lofty Durham.
“Who are they?’ My five year old grandson asked, astonished as he looked up by their life-sized embodied presence. Now at the back of the church, as if to process out of the south door. 

The story of Cuthbert lives on, of Aidan before him and Oswald too. Of the Lindisfarne Gospels written in the scriptorium somewhere here, back in the north this autumn to visit again.
It is also our story, as we too seek sanctuary from the dark troubles of our fragile world.

May the lapwing who migrated speak to us of the turning of times, tides and the seasons on Holy Island, a place of fragile peace and sanctuary. May s/he speak to us of the need to fly, to flee, when adversity comes. May s/he reassure us that, in God’s loving economy, there are places of safety when we seek together – even when that resting place is our ‘place of resurrection’, our own graves.

Gill Henwood


  • The Lapwing was part of a Nature Trail created by Anna and volunteers  under the guidance of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.
  • The Lapwing, also known as the peewit in imitation of its display calls, its proper name describes its wavering flight. Its black and white appearance and round-winged shape in flight make it distinctive, even without its splendid crest. This familiar farmland bird has suffered significant declines recently and is now a Red List species.
  • The Heugh (pronounced Hee-uff) is an elevated rocky ridgeoverlooking the village and providing some protection from the wild weather which assails the island village. It was here that St. Aidan set up his monastery in the 7th Century when Lindisfarne became the cradle of Christianity for a vast area of England and Southern Scotland.

One thought on “Lindisfarne Lapwing

  1. Thanks Geoffrey- two typos, probably caused by my phone (!!): lough not laugh, and fleeing not fleeting!

    Glad to hear of the lapwing’s creation.

    There were hundreds of lapwings on the Ribble floodplains at Hothersall when we moved there in 1992. Their cries were particularly wonderful in the darkness, piercing the summer nights. Their swooping and soaring flights were aerobatic delights. The local farm children collected eggs – they were so plentiful. Within five years they had vanished. The grassy fields had been ploughed and down for fodder crops. Very sad….


    Sent from my iPhone


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