The Man Who Gave His Horse To A Beggar




Following in the footsteps of Aidan of Lindisfarne


the saint who walked to heaven


through Ireland, Scotland and the north of England.




JOHN CONNELL with the photographs of PHIL COPE


£25 published by culture and democracy press




This magnificent book on quality paper with a feast of fine photographs is worth its weight in gold!




John Connell is a BBC journalist with a young family who has recently become an Orthodox Christian. He feels Aidan is a giant whose reputation has been eclipsed, and in this speculative portrait he has used week-ends and holidays to traverse three countries in order to re-evaluates Aidan’s place in history by tracing his footsteps.




Hew takes us on six journeys. The first is to sacred stories and sites in Ireland that may well have been familiar to Aidan as a boy and youth. These include pagan mythology, and monastic sites such as Durrow, Skellig and Scattery Island where, according to one tradition, Aidan had oversight of the hermits there.




The second journey is Footprints in Stone in the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, mostly in western Scotland, including Dunadd, Iona, St. Fillan’s Healing Stones, Glen Lyon and Aberlady Cross.




The third journey, Heartlands, gives us close-up pictures of iconic sites at Bamburgh, Lindisfarne, the Farne Isles and Almouth, and re- tells the stories of Bede.




The fourth journey, Hinterlands, explores the further excursions of Aidan’s travelling missioners and successors, including such places as St. Baldred’s Well and Cave, East Lothian, Yeavering Royal Centre (Ad Gefrin), St. Cuthbert’s Caves and Old Melrose.




The fifth journey, Ruins and Frontiers, wanders further afield in ancient Northumbria to sites of key figures who were fruits of Aidan’s Irish Mission such as Heavenfield, Church of St. John of Beverley, Hexham Abbey, Whithorn and Ruthwell.




The final journey, Legacy and Loss, takes us to Tyne and Wear, and North Yorkshire, including Hilda’s Hartlepool and Whitby, Durham Cathedral, and Lastingham.




The author is very impressed by the way Aidan died. Ephesians chapter 6 urges us to ‘having done all, to stand’. He points out that as Aidan was dying he stood and leaned against a buttress of the little Bamburgh church in prayer.  He speculates that if Aidan had given up, Cuthbert, forty miles away, might never have seen angels escorting him to heaven forty miles away.




It was my privilege to drive the author to the site of Cuthbert’s ‘seeing’. Seeing that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run our race with perseverance.


Posted at 09:55am on 27th February 2020
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