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Farne Islands, Northumberland

Historical Description

Fern Islands, Farne Islands, or Staples, an extra parochial group of islets and rocks in Northumberland, from 2 to 10 miles E and ENE of Bambrough. Population, 15. The islets, seventeen in number, are small and precipitous, and, 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. There are two lighthouses, called Inner Fam and Longstone, for guiding the navigation. One of the most disastrous of the shipwrecks was that of the " Forfarshire" steamer in September, 1838. (See BAMBURGH CASTLE.) House Island, lying nearest the mainland, was the place where St Cuthbert spent the last two years of his life. It 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 Isel-iStone Rocks.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Northumberland is available to browse.


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Newspapers and Periodicals

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