Farne Islands - Encyclopedia




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FARNE ISLANDS [also Fearne, Fern, or THE ], a group of rocky islands and reefs off the coast of Northumberland, England, included in that county. In 1901 they had only eleven inhabitants. They extend in a line of some 6 m. in a northeasterly direction from the coast, on which the nearest villages are Bamborough and North Sunderland. The Fairway, 12 m. across, separates the largest island, Farne, or House, from the mainland. Farne is 16 acres in area, and has precipitous cliffs up to 80 ft. in height on the east, but the shore is otherwise low. The other principal islets are Staple, Brownsman, North and South Wamses, Longstone and BigIHarcar. On Fame is a small ancient chapel, with a square tower near it built for purposes of defence in the 15th century. The chapel is believed to occupy the site of St Cuthbert's hermitage, whither he retired from the priory on the neighbouring Holy Island or Lindisfarne. He was with difficulty persuaded to leave it on his elevation to the bishopric of Lindisfarne, and returned to it to die (687). Longstone rock, with its lighthouse, is famous as the scene of the bravery of Grace Darling in rescuing some of the survivors of the wreck of the "Forfarshire" (1838). The rocks abound in sea-birds, including eider duck.

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