Sea-born Beads

I haven't written a pilgrimage related post here for a little while, so here's one to get back to how we started all of this and, as is so often the case, pick up a bit of folklore along the way. 
Over the past few years we've been to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne several times and enjoyed the tranquillity there after the bustling crowds have gone, on one occasion even recreating a medieval pilgrimage across the sands
From the beach just below St Mary's church it's only a short hop across the rocks when the tide is out to Hobthrush a little islet sometimes known as St Cuthbert's Isle as it was to it's relative peace that he moved when he found the distractions of the communal monastery too much. 
Walking along the beach beside the little island you can find tiny fossils in the sand, known as St Cuthbert's beads by pilgrims through the centuries.  In the museum at Lindisfarne Priory they have a whole string of them, which certainly would have taken some time to gather.
We've spent several evenings walking up and down that stretch of sand to find some of them.  The process is quite suited to the pilgrim, you need to be totally focussed on the task, but at the same time it's relaxing and rewarding, particularly with the song of seals drifting across the water from the nearby sandbanks.  
According to legend, St Cuthbert would use the beads for a rosary, but whilst they would have been collected from the 14th century, there's no evidence that they would have been used in the saint's lifetime. 
The beads are in fact segments of the stems of fossilised marine animals called crinoids, here's a picture I spotted of a model of some crinoids within an ancient sea, re-imagined in Buxton Museum in Derbyshire.
St Cuthbert's Beads fit in with other fossil folklore like belemnites, sometimes known as St Peter's Fingers, or the ammonites of Whitby, which were supposedly snakes cast over the cliff by St Hild.
Sir Walter Scott mentioned these, as well as St Cuthbert's Beads in his poem, Marmion. 
"But fain Saint Hilda's nuns would learn
If, on a rock by Lindisfarne,
Saint Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame
The sea-born beads that bear his name:
Such tales had Whitby's fishers told
And said they might his shape behold,
And here his anvil sound:
A deadened clang - a huge dim form
Seen but and heard when gathering storm
And night were closing round.
But this, a tale of idle fame,
The nuns of Lindisfarne disclaim."
Sometimes these fossils are known as fairy money as they resemble tiny coins, but in all the stories I know, when the fairies give you money it will turn out to be dried leaves or broken crockery later.