In 995, the community of Saint Cuthbert arrived in Durham looking for that elusive safe place for Cuthbert to be laid to rest. After the journey of just over 200 years, they finally came and settled in Durham and that is the point Durham started to grow.
With the arrival of the Normans came the build of the Cathedral in 1093 and the show of power and strength of a new King.
The story of Cuthbert, as well as the build of the Cathedral, is important to us here in the Education Team; its influence is far reaching and its stories are plentiful. And we love a good story. It’s one of the best ways to connect with our younger visitors and it’s such a privilege to share it with the next generation. We feel it’s important to share this story with as many school groups as we can as these children are the next generation of people who might fall in love with the building, find a ‘wow’ moment as we tell the stories or look at the architecture, and these will live on with them and inspire them to continue to look after this building and its heritage for the years to come.
The story of Cuthbert and our Northern Saints is important to tell. We get to bring to life the lives of the saints through the art in the windows, or through costumes and props. We want to make a visit here memorable for all the right reasons, and making this subject of historic Christianity relevant, is all part of the fun. It’s not only in the Cathedral building we can bring this to life, we use our Woodlands and Riverbanks too for outdoor exploration and activity. Cuthbert was thought of as the first conservationist and to be able to explore God’s creation and examine the creatures and trees of our natural world just brings an extra something to the experience.
We especially enjoy Cuthbertide. It’s our chance to give something back to the community in Cuthbert’s name. We make sure that the story isn’t overlooked so each year storyteller Adam Bushnell comes and tells us the origins of Durham, the stories from the county and of course why we’re celebrating the life of this Saint buried here in the Cathedral. We also do craft activities as well as story time, as it’s a way for people who may never have been here before or who may come frequently, to engage with the building in a different way. And almost like mini pilgrims, it’s a way to bring something back home with you to remind you of your time in this wonderful place.
We love to welcome all ages to the Cathedral and every time we hope it is enjoyable. However, if just one person from a group has a little encounter with God in a little way while they’re here, then that just shows the continued influence of Cuthbert’s life and the mission of the Cathedral, to bring the message of God to all.
Written by Caroline Johnson, Learning Officer at Durham Cathedral
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