If you’ve visited the Cathedral recently, or are planning on making a visit very soon, you will see white hoardings covering both the inside and outside of the North and South doors. For the last few years, I’ve been working closely with a team of people from across the Cathedral on a project to replace the lobbies on the North and South doors, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s all part of the Open Treasure project; we embarked on a mission to open up the treasures of the Cathedral to our visitors, and I don’t just mean artefacts and manuscripts.
The “girdle” of St Cuthbert was deposited by King Athelstan (r. 927-939), first King of the English and grandson of Alfred the Great, while St Cuthbert’s tomb was at Chester-le-Street in 934 AD. It was originally part of ecclesiastical garments that were commissioned by his step-mother Ælfflæd for the Bishop of Winchester. The braid was found loose and is known as “the girdle”, although it may originally have been a maniple. This is a piece of cloth that hangs from the left arm when giving mass. The girdle is an exceptionally fine piece of weaving, created from gold thread and two different colours of scarlet, although that’s hard to make out after more than a thousand years! So how did we find out what we know about it?
Two years on from opening its doors, Open Treasure has welcomed over 75,000 visitors of all ages from across the globe, and has housed many fascinating exhibitions and hosted a Royal guest. It’s been an exciting 24 months! We’ve picked out some of the highlights. Continue reading Open Treasure turns two!
This is the story of the Sanctuary Ring, which has greeted visitors to Durham since the 12th century. It is likely that many visitors to the Cathedral before 1980 grabbed this original Ring and posed for a photo. For over 450 years, the Sanctuary Ring represented the possibility of safety and salvation, for all sorts of crimes. In this post, we will explore the story of the Sanctuary Ring, from its purpose to how it worked in practice.
This summer, Durham Cathedral is proud to present a new temporary exhibition celebrating the mining history and communities of County Durham, Miners: Pitmen, Pride and Prayer. The exhibition, in the collections gallery of Open Treasure, will explore how centuries of coal mining have shaped the North East and how mining heritage is still felt to this day in local communities.
We’ve picked a few stand-out items from the exhibition, which opens on Tuesday 19 June. Read more below, and let us know what your favourite object is! Continue reading Mining heritage celebrated at new exhibition at ‘Miners’ Cathedral’
It’s the busiest time of year for the Cathedral’s team of gardeners at the moment, with lots of work needed in the Cathedral’s allotment garden to plant out a greenhouse full of promising young shoots. Flowers from the garden will be used over the summer for displays inside the Cathedral. We caught up with our gardening team during a gloriously sunny week of planting.
Adopt a Book began at Durham Cathedral in the autumn of 2016, inspired by a similar scheme at the British Library. It allows members of the public to donate towards the restoration of a chosen book from the Cathedral’s Refectory Library, where 30,000 early printed books are housed. The Library was refurbished as part of the Open Treasure project, and now has carefully controlled conditions to protect the fragile books. However, many of the books have suffered over the years, and are in need of repair – some of the spines and covers are only kept together on the shelves with cotton tape. Continue reading Restoring Durham Cathedral’s collections at a Scottish book bindery – with your help!