The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham (usually known as Durham Cathedral) is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green. The present cathedral replaced the 10th century “White Church”, built as part of a monastic foundation to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.
Durham Cathedral has been featured in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where it had a spire digitally added onto the top of the famous towers.
✘ Architecture ✘
The building is notable for the ribbed vault of the nave roof, with pointed transverse arches supported on relatively slender composite piers alternated with massive drum columns, and flying buttresses or lateral abutments concealed within the triforium over the aisles. These features appear to be precursors of the Gothic architecture of Northern France a few decades later, doubtless due to the Norman stonemasons responsible, although the building is considered Romanesque overall. The skilled use of the pointed arch and ribbed vault made it possible to cover far more elaborate and complicated ground plans than before. Buttressing made it possible to build taller buildings and open up the intervening wall spaces to create larger windows.
Saint Cuthbert’s tomb lies at the East in the Feretory and was once an elaborate monument of cream marble and gold. It remains a place of pilgrimage.
Durham Cathedral is one of Britain’s most magnificent buildings, and looms high on the city skyline today as it has for close to 1,000 years. It is one of the world’s finest examples of Norman architecture and is a World Heritage Site. Find out more
Some of the amazing objects associated with St Cuthbert. His coffin in Durham Cathedral is engraved with the figure of Christ which is surrounded by four Evangelists’ symbols on the lid - also in Old English Runes, on one end the earliest surviving iconic representation of the Virgin and Child outside Rome from the medieval art of the Western Church, with the archangels Michael and Gabriel on the other. The sides show the Twelve Apostles and five archangels.
The Gold and Garnet pectoral cross found in his coffin in 1104 along with the St Cuthbert Gospel - the oldest fully intact bound book in Europe.
Below, the incredible Lindisfarne Gospels created in honour of “God & St Cuthbert”