Searching for 'Cuddy's beads' on Lindisfarne - Country diary archive, 6 September 1968
6 September 1968 St Cuthbert’s necklace consists of the fossilised stalks of the crinoid, a primitive form of marine creature found on the island’s beaches
In the little Priory museum on Holy Island, off the most northerly coast of Northumberland, there is on display, in a glass case, a necklace of St Cuthbert’s beads. Holy Isle, previously Lindisfarne, is claimed as the first seat of Celtic Christianity in England. Cuthbert, sixth bishop of Lindisfarne, is credited with being the first bird-conservationist, and the eider duck is still known locally as Cuddy’s duck. But back to Cuthbert’s beads. These are the fossilised stalks of the crinoid, or delightfully named feather-star, a primitive form of marine creature. One can presume, from the necklace on show in the museum on Holy Isle, that the monks might have used these necklets as a form of rosary. You can still find these tiny beads on the island’s beaches. They resemble little stone buttons already pierced with a central hole.