Durham Cathedral--page 1 (of six pages)


The cathedral in Durham was founded to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert, replacing an earlier church constructed in his honor. (Saint Cuthbert was Bishop of Lindisfarne from AD 685 until his death.) Durham soon became a pilgrimage site, encouraged by the growing cult of Saint Cuthbert, and a town formed around the cathedral area. The bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in 1093 CE. It is now the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham.

Today the cathedral is famous as one of the best surviving examples of Norman architecture with its Norman architecture surviving largely intact; it has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral occupies a dramatic position above the River Wear with the west end towering over a precipitous gorge. Construction of the cathedral began in 1093 at the eastern end with the choir completed by 1096. Then work continued on the nave, the walls of which were finished by 1128, and the high vault completed by 1135. Two chapels and the crossing tower were finished later.

Distant views



The crossing tower of 217 feet (66 m)

The front towers date from the early 13th century, but when the central tower was damaged by lightning, it was replaced in two stages in the 15th century. The great central tower dates from the fifteenth century and displays perpendicular Gothic detailing.

Views of the nave and transept

The spires in the photograph at the left decorate the Gothic addition to the cathedral, the so-called Chapel of the Nine Altars. See Page 5 for interior views.

The transept

The northern front (nave and transept) of the Cathedral faces onto the Palace green; the nave measures 496 feet (143 metres) in length. Note round arched Romanesque windows and blind arcades on the first register.

The entrance--northwest end of nave

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© 2015 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.