Durham Priory Library Recreated

Durham Cathedral has countless treasures waiting to be explored, and many will be on display when Open Treasure opens next year. But if you can’t wait that long, you might be interested in another exciting project which is transforming public access to over 300 beautiful manuscripts from our collection.

In collaboration with Durham University, we hope to create an online, digital version of Durham Cathedral’s Priory Library, one of Britain’s best preserved medieval and Renaissance Monastic libraries in the UK.

The resulting digital resource will include high resolution images of the historic manuscripts, detailed bibliographic records, and spectroscopic research undertaken by Durham University academics into the ink pigments used to create these documents.

Durham Priory Library Recreated will enable users to search the collections, discuss the content, leave feedback, and make online annotations of the manuscripts and printed books to support collaborative research.

The surviving volumes of Durham Priory Library include masterpieces of calligraphy and illumination, spanning a millennium of European culture, supported by an extensive series of library catalogues dating from the eleventh to the fifteenth century.

Together, the collections and catalogues provide evidence of how the medieval library was used by the priory and show the transition between handwritten manuscripts and early printed books.

By the end of the project around 350 volumes will have been digitised and it is hoped that the project will be able to extend to include about 200 further volumes originally part of the Priory Library but scattered across the UK since the dissolution in 1539.

We’re delighted to be able to share our incredible collections with a wider audience and look forward to sharing our most precious artefacts with even more people when Open Treasure opens next year.

Lisa Di Tommaso, Head of Collections

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