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Terrifying sea serpent appears to warn drivers off crossing Holy Island Causeway at high tide

Chronicle Live logo Chronicle Live 24/01/2023 Daniel Hall

A sea serpent has appeared by the Holy Island Causeway warning drivers not to cross when the tide is high.

Of course, it's not a real sea serpent but a creation of Claire Eason of soul2sand, who has embarked upon several sand art projects in Northumberland since her retirement. Claire has previously created an enormous first class stamp for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee on Bamburgh Beach, as well as a tribute to the fallen ahead of Remembrance Sunday and a 2023 New Year's Firework, both on Beadnell Beach.

However Claire, who worked in the NHS for 30 years, says her latest artwork was meant to be a bit of fun. At least before the more serious message regarding the causeway became a part of it and it "took on another life".

Read more: 'Somebody could drown': Plea to Holy Island visitors to check crossing times after three rescues

Rescues of stranded motorists are commonplace on the Holy Island Causeway, with the RNLI at Seahouses often called out to bring drivers and their passengers to safety when they attempt to cross back to the mainland outside of safe crossing times.

Sunderland-based Claire said: "When you talk to anyone in the Coastguard or the RNLI, they always talk about the summer problems of people not looking at the tidal crossings and ending up having to be rescued. Every year it's a big thing and it came up in conversation with a friend not along ago."

Jörmungandr the sea serpent was created next to a turning circle on the Holy Island Causeway, where several cars become stranded every year © Claire Eason, soul2sand Jörmungandr the sea serpent was created next to a turning circle on the Holy Island Causeway, where several cars become stranded every year

It's not just the dangers of crossing at high tide that inspired Claire though. She's also taken inspiration from the salt marshes that line the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve, which she says remind her of snakes when viewed from above.

Claire continued: "It put me in mind of a gigantic snake and then I thought about how the whole area is embedded with Norse mythology. In Norse mythology, there's this vast serpent called Jörmungandr who fights with Thor and I quite like the idea of the sleeping snake under the causeway that might poke its head up every now and then to warn people it's not a good idea to cross when there's water on the causeway."

The whole thing took around four hours on the morning of Monday January 23, and the fearsome serpent has already been washed away. And Claire says it was more difficult than her usual works, which she draws on grids in the sand.

Jörmungandr took four hours to make but was already being washed away when the tide returned © Claire Eason, soul2sand Jörmungandr took four hours to make but was already being washed away when the tide returned

She said: "It's always a little bit tricky on the causeway because the sand shifts so much you can never predict from one day to the next where the sand is going to be - sometimes it's water, sometimes it's muddy silt. Finding the right spot was the tricky thing and because it's unpredictable, you can't plan it out on paper the way you would on a regular beach.

"The only place I could put it was in that awkward spot where there's the turning circle, that was the only place. I planned out the head and made that into a grid, but I had to freehand draw the body curling under the causeway to the other side and it wasn't quite the idea that was in my head but it's what I had to do to fit the space."

A sand portrait of Jörmungandr the sea serpent on Holy Island Causeway © Claire Eason, soul2sand A sand portrait of Jörmungandr the sea serpent on Holy Island Causeway

Though it wasn't exactly what Claire had intended, she is still very happy with the result, and found that a lot of passers-by were interested in the art. She finished: "As it was, it was quite nice because there were parked cars there and to have the serpent staring angrily at the cars was quite fun.

"We had people stopping, they were really enthusiastic and very curious about what's going on. A lot of these people were visitors who were unfamiliar with the causeway and I just wanted to pass on the message that it was fine to cross when the tide was out, but you've got to be careful."

Have you ever had a near miss on the Holy Island Causeway? Let us know!

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