What’s On


Berwick Literary Festival

Hear Kathy’s talk at the 2020 Berwick Literary Festival here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loK1huI5ltI&t=813


Berwick Educational Association lecture course

“Lindisfarne to Durham: St Cuthbert and the Haliwerfolc”

March 16 – March 30th 5pm

The remarkable story of the North’s iconic saint and his Community through four hundred turbulent years.

This is a series of three talks by Katharine Tiernan, taking place on Tuesdays, March 16th – March 30th, 5.00 pm to 6.00 pm. . If you would like to buy a ticket for the full series, click here.

How did a seventh century hermit become the focus of a great medieval cult? And how did he and his Community, the Haliwerfolc, survive both the Viking invasion of the ninth century and the brutal Harrying of the North after the Norman Conquest? This course tells the turbulent story of the North’s most iconic saint, whose shrine in Durham Cathedral is still revered today.

Week 1: C7th Northumbria. Cuthbert and Bede. Our knowledge of Cuthbert’s life and the time he lived in owes everything to the work of the Venerable Bede, one of the great scholars of his day. Although Bede never met Cuthbert and was only 14 when he died, his ‘Life of Cuthbert’ was a much-loved classic throughout the medieval period. This lecture will look at the Life and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, as well as some alternative perspectives on the religious conflicts of the day which were to culminate in the Synod of Whitby.

Week 2: C9th The Vikings. After Cuthbert’s death, his monastery on Lindisfarne became a major centre for pilgrimage and religious art. But its prosperous tranquillity made it an easy target for Viking raids. In 875, after the Danes had conquered York and were moving north to crush rebellion, the monks finally abandoned Lindisfarne. This lecture focusses on the story of the Community’s seven-year flight in search of a new home, and on the impact of the Viking invasions on the Christian North.

Week 3: C11th The Normans. By the eleventh century the Haliwerfolc and their saint were powerful land-owners and securely established at Durham. But in 1069, when Northumbria revolted against oppressive Norman rule, the Community found themselves caught between the rebels and their new Norman masters. William the Conqueror’s brutal reprisal, the Harrying of the North, was to bring untold suffering to the province. Yet within the devastation the Community underwent a time of renewal that was ultimately to find expression in the building of Durham Cathedral.

Lectures will be delivered via Zoom. If you haven’t used Zoom before, please go to www.zoom.us and look at the tutorials. Once you have booked, you will find the Zoom invitation in the Online Event Page on Eventbrite. You will also receive an email with the invitation 24 hours before the event. If you can’t find the invitation, please email berwickea@gmail.com.



TOURS: “In The Footsteps of St Cuthbert”

A particularly enjoyable part of researching my Lindisfarne novels has been visiting locations in Northumberland, Durham and the Scottish Borders associated with St Cuthbert. Many of these places are not only fascinating historically but have great spiritual presence. The Footsteps Tours grew out of a desire to share the experience of these places with others. There are no tours currently scheduled due to the pandemic; however once restrictions are over please contat me to organise a customised tour if you have a group who would like to participate.


Past Tours have included…

Four day residential:

The original Footsteps Tour. Two nights on Lindisfarne, starting with a pilgrimage walk across the sands, and with visits to St Cuthbert’s Cave and Inner Farne. From there to St Paul’s Church at Jarrow, monastery of Cuthbert’s first biographer, the Venerable Bede, and Jarrow Hall, home to the Bede’s World museum. Two nights in Durham, with visits to the Cathedral and Open Treasure exhibition, and to Chester-le-Street, home to the Cuthbert Community for 90 years before the move to Durham.

Day visits:

Lindisfarne and St Cuthbert. This can be a two hour visit to Lindisfarne, including an introductory talk, or a full day visit including a visit to St Cuthbert’s Cave and a pilgrimage walk across the sands.

Cuthbert’s early life. We visit the Leader Valley where he grew up, and Channelkirk, said to be the site of his childhood home. We then turn back to Melrose, to view the site of Old Mailrhos where Cuthbert entered his first monastery at the age of seventeen.

Please get in touch if you are interested in participating in, or arranging, a Tour.


About Pilgrimage

TS Eliot writes about pilgrimage like this in Little Gidding:

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same; you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity,
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead; the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.
Four Quartets by TS Eliot