Farne Islands  Northumberland


In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Farne Islands like this:

FERN ISLANDS, Farne Islands, or Staples, an extra-parochial group of islets and rocks in Belford district, Northumberland; from 2 to 10 miles E and ENE of Bambrough. Pop., 23. Houses, 5. The islets are seventeen in number; are small and precipitous; are farmed by persons on the mainland; are frequented by enormous numbers of sea-fowl; and are notable for the intricacy of the navigation through the channels which separate them, and for the numbers of shipwrecks which have happened on the shores; and have two lighthouses, maintained at a cost of about £600 a year, for guiding the navigation. ...

One of the most disastrous of the shipwrecks was that of the "Forfarshire" steamer, in September 1838. See Bambrough Castle. House Island, lying nearest the mainland, was the place where St. Cuthbert spent the last two years of his life; was afterwards made the site of a Benedictine priory, subordinate to Durham; and still has some parts of the buildings, including a square tower and the remains of the church. The interior of the church was refitted in 1848, and is occasionally used for the lighthouse-men; but the building is rude and small. A deep chasm is on the north end of this isle, from top to bottom of the cliff; and receives the billows in a storm in such a manner as to throw up a jet d'eau 60 feet high. The Pinnacles, at the outer extremity of the group, is an island named from vast columnar rocks at its southern end. Chief places among the islets are a channel between the Megstone and the Oxscar, and a channel between the Ploughseat and the Goldstone, -also the Wide Opens, the Scare Crows, the Bush Reefs, the Elbow, the Glororum Shad, and the Iselstone rocks.

Farne Islands through time

Farne Islands is now part of Berwick upon Tweed district. Click here for graphs and data of how Berwick upon Tweed has changed over two centuries. For statistics about Farne Islands itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Farne Islands, in Berwick upon Tweed and Northumberland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 18th May 2024

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