Additionally, there is evidence that West Saxon kings from Alfred regarded St Cuthbert as their patron, highlighting the continued importance of Lindisfarne. “They had a story – and the story existed very early, it is not later fiction,” says Wood, “that Cuthbert had appeared to Alfred the Great in a vision and promised him that if his family stood firm, they would end up being Kings of England, which they were – and they also kept St Cuthbert close to them.
It is therefore not surprising that the fateful day of June 793 is remembered, even if it was not the first attack. For as well as the murder of the Warden in Wessex, there is evidence of Viking attacks in Kent as early as 753. of the warfare that existed throughout what we used to call the Dark Ages says Wood, “and that Lindisfarne is upping the ante because it’s such a devastating attack on such an important place.
And that, coupled with the presence of a Northumbrian scholar, Alcuin, at Charlemagne’s court in Aachen, also ensured that he would never be forgotten. “This is the first really loud, high-profile damage the Vikings do,” says Heather.
But not the last. Before the Vikings had their day in the mid 1100’s they used to make a lot more noise, but Lindisfarne shouts louder than the rest. “It was the first attack in the north,” says David Petts. ‘It’s such a surprise. It’s a thunderclap.