Crown of Light Durham Cathedral Photo credit Graeme Peacock

2022 will be a big year for events in NewcastleGateshead so open up your new diaries and start planning your visits to the North East! One of the major highlights in NewcastleGateshead's cultural calendar will be the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Going on display at Newcastle's city-centre Laing Art Gallery, the Lindisfarne Gospels will be open at St John's gospel and available for visitors to marvel and peruse from 17 September - 3 December 2022. 

This will be the first time in over 20 years that the ancient and sacred manuscript will be hosted in Newcastle (more recently, the artifact returned to the North East for a stint at a Durham-based exhibition in 2013). A hugely popular slice of North East and UK history, the Lindisfarne Gospels will no doubt be a must-see attraction for many people in 2022, whether your interests are spiritual, literary, cultural, artistic or historical. 

A varied year-long programme of events, talks, walking tours, community projects and workshops will run alongside the Newcastle-based showcase of the manuscript and will create a festival feel which spreads across the North East - with activities taking place in the farthest reaches of Northumberland down to County Durham, from Hexham to Sunderland, and of course, across additional locations in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The complementary programme of events - which has been dubbed the 'Inspired by' programme - will showcase the region's talent, creativity and rich heritage and explore themes relating to the manuscript. Visit the North East in 2022 and explore identity, a sense of place and togetherness as well as uncovering the history of the iconic manuscripts on loan from the British Library. 

What is the Lindisfarne Gospels?

The Lindisfarne Gospels is described as 'the most spectacular manuscript to survive from Anglo-Saxon England.' Dating back over 1,300 years, it might blow your mind that there is still a manuscript in existence from a time beyond comprehension! The Lindisfarne Gospels recount the four gospels of the New Testament and were created in 700 AD at Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island off the Northumberland coastline. The work of monks, the manuscript demonstrates creativity, artistry and religious significance which provides a window into the ancient history of our region. Later added to be a County Durham-based priest, Aldred, nearly 300 years later in the late 10th Century. The intricately decorated manuscript is famed for its impressive and elaborately full-page illustrations.

Image: (Left) Front cover of Lindisfarne Gospels c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) (c) British Library Board (Right) Matthew Evangelist portrait, Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) (c) British Library Board

Highlights from the Inspired By programme

Libraries and the Lindisfarne Gospels: Sharing stories through the ages

  • When:17 September to 3 December 2022
  • Where: Newcastle City Library

A must-see feature of the Inspired By programme is the complementary exhibition at Newcastle City Library which sits opposite Laing Art Gallery where the gospels will be displayed. Adding depths and background to the Lindisfarne Gospels, the exhibition at City Library will explore the changing way people have shared stories since the creation of the sacred manuscript over 1,300 years ago to the modern day, using artifacts from the Newcastle Libraries Heritage collection and special loans from the British Library in London. There will be an additional outreach programme throughout local schools and libraries in the North East to encourage people to create their own, modern-day gospels.

Exploring the Lindisfarne Gospels

  • When: 17 September - 1 December 2022
  • Where: Newcastle Cathedral 

Newcastle Cathedral has been a spectacular structure in the heart of the city for nearly as long as the Lindisfarne Gospels have existed. The 900-year-old church will be showcasing some of their own 14th Century scriptures and running tours and workshops exploring features such as stained glass, calligraphy, textile design, music, and storytelling. 

A mix of talks covering art, spirituality and sacredness will take place alongside regular creative activities for families, connected to the themes of the Lindisfarne Gospels. A digital and visual interpretation of the gospels will form the central focus of the Cathedral's work to bring to life the Lindisfarne Gospel to its audiences.

World Heritage Site Day 2022: Durham

  • When: Easter Weekend
  • Where: Durham Cathedral

There will be a festival vibe over Easter Bank Holiday Weekend in Durham when the city celebrates World Heritage Site Day. The event which focuses around the historic sites of Durham Cathedral and marks the 950th anniversary of Durham Castle will see the return of 'Crown of Light' projection which will include illuminations from the Lindisfarne Gospels. 

There will also be music and drama performances, lectures, talks, workshops, food markets and plenty of a family fun to be had too! 

2022 is a busy year for the North East when another World Heritage landmark Hadrian's Wall also celebrates a big milestone - 1900 years since it was first built.  

Lead image: Crown of Light, Durham Cathedral. Photo by Graeme Peacock.

Illuminated Sheep

  • When: 1 September 2022 – 31 October 2022
  • Where: 40 life-size sheep sculptures will be scattered across 35 locations in Northumberland (and some in Newcastle and North Tyneside!)

The theme of 'light' runs through many of the Inspired By events programme which is derived from the statements within the Lindisfarne Gospels when Jesus declares 'I am the Light of the World.' What better way to represent this theme than with a trail of illuminated sheep! Discover rural Northumberland on what has been described as a 'modern-day pilgrimage'; the specially crafted sculptures will be peppered across the countryside and provide visitors on the trail a chance for reflection as well as fun! 

Supported by North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Glass Exchange

  • When: March - September 2022
  • Where: Sunderland 

An exhibition of commissioned new glass creations will be on display at spaces across Sunderland and Durham. The contemporary artists who took on the brief will make their own interpretation of the themes relating to the Lindisfarne Gospels and produce four very different works of art.

In nearby Jarrow, visitors can explore The Written Script: An Art form which will take a closer look at Mediterranean influences on Early Medieval manuscripts and art. The exhibition which will be running in autumn 2022 will give visitors the opportunity to see the full-sized facsimile of the Codex Amiatinus on display in the Bede Museum. There will be chance for those interested in local history to learn about Bede the Historian and for families to take part in fun activities and other special events.

Sunderland holds great significance for Christian heritage for many reasons including its connection to prominent figures like Venerable Bede who spent his life in the monasteries in the region. English Heritage describe the twin monasteries, St Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow and St Peter’s at Wearmouth, Sunderland, as "one of Europe’s most influential centres of learning and culture in the 7th and 8th centuries."

Holy Island Northumberland image Newcastle Gateshead Initiative BLOG

Pilgrimages and Guided Tours

  • When: dates throughout the year
  • Where: Holy Island, Northumberland, Newcastle

Many people every year make a pilgrimage of some sort to Lindisfarne in Northumberland - and this year, there are some brilliant opportunities to discover the joy of a pilgrimage for yourself. A number of organisations are running guided tours to explore the landscape, heritage and stories associated with the ancient monks in the North East and Holy Island. 

Follow in the footsteps of the saints with a guided tour across the causeway to Holy Island. The 7-mile walk promises to be atmospheric, reflective and a way to experience nature as you follow the Pilgrims' Path walk to Holy Island.

There are also a number of walks on the island that will explore a route that can trace its history back to the 7th Century. An alternative Sunset Walk is available to experience the glorious setting in the summer twilight. 

Jan Williams is an award winning, professional Blue Badge Guide who has extensive knowledge of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Early Christianity in the North East. Join Jan for a range of guided walks of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne as well as tours in the cities of Newcastle and Durham. 

For more information about the guided walks by Jan Williams or the Pilgrims' Path walks, and to book, visit the Guided Walks section of this page

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