Historic England, the government adviser on the Historic Environment, launched their
annual ‘Heritage at Risk’ register. The register gives an annual snapshot of England’s
The Heritage at Risk register is now in its 20th year and to mark this, Historic England have
published their top 20 picks of sites rescued over the last two decades. The medieval chapel
on St Cuthbert's Island, one of the most iconic and historically significant archaeological sites
on the Northumberland Coast, has been highlighted as one of those conservation
Conservation work to St, Cuthbert’s Island was undertaken in 2017 as part of the National
Lottery funded Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership scheme. Supported by £1.4m of
National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the scheme enabled the
conservation of eight significant built heritage assets on Holy Island and was supported by
additional funds from Northumberland County Council, the Northumberland Coast AONB
Partnership and the War Memorial Trust.
The significance of St Cuthbert's Island, the small tombolo off to the west of the Holy Island
of Lindisfarne, can not be underestimated. The wealth of national designations illustrates the
immense value of the delicate environment and heritage. Sited by Bede as the location for St
Cuthbert’s first island refuge in 676 means the island also has huge spiritual significance and
draws many visitors.
Whilst very high tides have always had the potential to impact on the west end of the
Scheduled chapel, more extreme weather events in recent years have taken an evident toll
on the historic fabric. This has resulted in the loss of historic fabric and an increasing risk to
the integrity of the buried archaeology.
The National Lottery funded Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project was a
remarkable and timely opportunity to address the increasing erosion in an innovative way.
The project's conservation architect, Tristan Spicer of Doonan Architects and the
conservation builder Heritage Consolidation, developed a suite of conservation options for
the variety of sites across the Peregrini area of which St Cuthbert’s Island was the most
important. The small bespoke gabions, filled with stones from the foreshore, were moulded
to the site and have established a subtle, sustainable and clearly definable intervention
which has proved incredibly successful in arresting the erosion of the site.
The other sites that benefited from conservation work were the Bark Pots, Popple Well,
Osborne’s Fort, the Palace, the War Memorial and Market Cross.
Sara Rushton, Northumberland County Council Conservation Manager said “Thanks to
players of the National Lottery, we’ve been able to secure the future of a range of
remarkable heritage sites across Holy Island and ensure that generations to come are able
to experience the tranquility and isolation of the chapel remains on St. Cuthbert’s Island.”