The Treasures of St Cuthbert represent some of the most significant Anglo-Saxon artefacts in the UK! From Saturday 29 July you’ll be able to see these exquisite objects on permanent display in the stunning Great Kitchen in Open Treasure, Durham Cathedral’s world-class exhibition experience. Here are eight things to look out for when you visit:
- St Cuthbert’s pectoral cross – This spectacular 7th-century gold and garnet pectoral cross was designed to be worn on a chain around the neck and may have been worn by St Cuthbert during his lifetime. It is a rare and important early example of Christian Anglo-Saxon jewellery.
- St Cuthbert’s ivory comb – Based on multiples of 1¼ inches (the diameter of the hole at the centre of the comb), this is a rare surviving example of an Anglo-Saxon comb. The teeth have been painstakingly cut, with a little saw or file, and the cross is simple yet beautifully designed.
- St Cuthbert’s portable altar – Portable altars were used by missionaries during the 7th-century, and St Cuthbert’s portable altar would have been used to support St Cuthbert’s missionary work in the North East. This fragile treasure dates from 660 AD.
- St Cuthbert’s wooden coffin – Widely regarded as the most important example of Pre-Conquest woodwork, St Cuthbert’s coffin is the centrepiece of The Treasures of St Cuthbert exhibition. It is finely engraved with linear images, Latin lettering and Anglo-Saxon runes with names of apostles and saints, and is believed to date from 698 AD.
- 10th-century vestments – In the 930s, King Athelstan added an exquisite stole and maniple to St Cuthbert’s coffin which are the only existing Anglo-Saxon embroideries which depict human figures. See these beautiful silks on display in alongside the other Treasures of St Cuthbert from 29 July.
- The Sanctuary Ring – The 12th-Century Sanctuary Ring is one of Durham Cathedral’s most enduring symbols. Originally attached to the North Door of the Cathedral, those who ‘had committed a great offence’ could rap the knocker and would be given 37 days of sanctuary during which they could try to reconcile with their enemies or plan their escape. The Sanctuary Ring currently on the North Door is a replica of the original, which is now on display in Open Treasure.
- The Conyers’ Falchion – The Conyers Falchion is a medieval sword: 89cm long and less than three pounds in weight, it consists of a bronze pommel and cross and a handle made of ash. According to legend, it was used by John Conyers to slay the ‘Sockburn Worm’.
- The Great Kitchen – The Great Kitchen has been transformed into a permanent and fitting home for The Treasures of St Cuthbert. Used as a kitchen until the 1940s, this stunning space is one of only two surviving medieval monastic kitchens in the UK!
Visitors to The Treasures of St Cuthbert can also enjoy access to the other Open Treasure exhibition spaces, including the spectacular Monks’ Dormitory and the rolling programme of exhibitions in the Collections Gallery.