Founded in 1093, Durham Cathedral is a breathtaking example of Romanesque architecture and one of the finest Norman buildings in the world.
An iconic image of North East England, local people have voted for the Cathedral as the place they are most proud of, and in 2001 a national BBC Poll of viewers and listeners revealed that Durham Cathedral was Britain’s “Best loved building.”
Together with Durham Castle, the Cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of the first to be granted the prestigious protected status - since 1987. The original rib vaulted church, an architectural innovation of great importance, took just 40 years to build which is a remarkable feat of engineering for its time.
It is the only Cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship and one of the few to preserve the unity and integrity of its original design. It is also the home of St Cuthbert’s tomb, one of the most revered English saints and formerly Bishop of Lindisfarne, (Holy Island).
After St Cuthbert’s death monks fled Danish raiders with his body and eventually settled in Durham. A carving on the north front of the cathedral commemorates the legend that the monks carrying St Cuthbert’s coffin were guided to Durham by a milkmaid looking for her dun cow.
When Cuthbert’s body was removed from Lindisfarne it was magnificently preserved and had not decayed. Miraculous cures were then associated with his shrine and Durham became the most important centre for mediaeval pilgrimages in Northern England.
The Cathedral is also home to the tomb of the Venerable Bede, now Saint Bede, the Father of English history and first recorded Christian Scholar in the British Isles. The Cathedral faces on to Palace Green where its full 496ft (143 metres) from east to west can be seen and appreciated.