Ten things you didn’t know about Durham Cathedral

Some of the most spectacular spaces inside Durham Cathedral are being transformed by a multi-million pound development project Open Treasure. These world-class exhibition galleries will open in 2016, providing access to the Cathedral’s internationally renowned collection of manuscripts and other priceless artefacts.

To whet your appetite, here are ten things about Durham Cathedral, its collections and the new exhibition spaces that you probably don’t know:

  1. Over 65,000 tons of sandstone were used to build Durham Cathedral, making it one of the top 100 geo-sites in the UK!
  2. Durham Cathedral marks a turning point in the history of architecture; it boasts the world’s first structural pointed arch.
  3. The ceiling and walls of Durham Cathedral were originally painted in vibrant colours, including blues, reds and gold. Traces of paint still remain on the walls and ceiling.
  4. The Monks’ Dormitory is the only intact monastic dormitory in England and the spectacular oak-beamed roof is rivalled only by Westminster Hall. This incredible space will mark the start of the new exhibition route due to open in 2016.
  5. The Great Kitchen is one of only two intact surviving monastic kitchens in England. It will eventually house the Relics of St Cuthbert as part of Open Treasure.
  6. Durham Cathedral boasts the best-preserved and documented medieval Benedictine Library in the British Isles, with manuscripts dating from the 6th-century onwards.
  7. Durham Cathedral holds three issues of Magna Carta in its collections, dating from 1216, 1225 and 1300. The 1216 Magna Carta is the only surviving copy of this issue.
  8. St Cuthbert’s wooden coffin held in the Cathedral’s collections is one of the oldest surviving examples of Anglo-Saxon wood-carving in the British Isles.
  9. Durham Cathedral holds the only surviving pieces of Anglo-Saxon embroidery in England; the stole and maniple offered in honour of St Cuthbert by King Athelstan in 934.
  10. In 1986, Durham Cathedral became the first English Cathedral to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Almost thirty years later, it remains one of Britain’s best-loved buildings.
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