Durham Cathedral

by David Murray on 16 February 2011

in Cathedrals, Durham

Durham Cathedral from across the weir. - geograph.org.uk - 237615It is now several years since I was in Durham but I’ve always enjoyed my visits there. A walk down by the river, with the castle and cathedral towering overhead, is an extremely pleasant way of spending a quiet afternoon and there’s a good place to get a cup of tea at the end of the walk.

There are ancient legends about the foundation of the city around 995 AD, claiming that as monks were wandering around the North carrying the bodily remains of Saint Cuthbert they reached this area and then were physically unable to move.  Eventually they were miraculously guided to the spot where Durham Cathedral now stands.

True or not, the fact is that in subsequent centuries the great church was built, and the castle, and the city that surrounds them. This is also the burial place of the Venerable Bede (672-735) the greatest English scholar of his times and author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In addition to being the home of a working and worshipping church the cathedral attracts well over half a million visitors each year.  Its library was first established when the monks from the community founded on Lindisfarne by St Aidan in 635 left there and after intermediate stops arrived in Durham not only with the relics of Saint Cuthbert but also a collection of books.

Durham’s bishops were for many centuries known as “Prince Bishops” and although the title and its powers are now long obsolete the Bishopric of Durham is regarded as the third most senior position in the Church of England, after the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Thinking in “thirds” Durham University is the third oldest university in England after Oxford and Cambridge (although University College London has also claimed that distinction). It is considered to be one of the country’s elite universities, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo by Carol Walker [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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