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?
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 guest blog is part of a series called Shattering Perceptions. Written by Hannah Taylor and Maggie Birnbaum, MA students at Durham University, these blogs delve into the trailblazing female academics celebrated in their upcoming exhibition, Shattering Perceptions: The Women of Archaeology. Their exhibition will be open at Palace Green Library from 14 June.
Durham Cathedral has acquired an internationally renowned collection of manuscripts and historic artefacts over the centuries. Each month we feature one of these objects as ‘Treasure of the Month’.
Some items from the Cathedral’s collections are on display in Open Treasure, a new world-class visitor experience at the heart of the Cathedral’s medieval monastic buildings.
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.
From Monday 19 June – Saturday 9 September, the Open Treasure Collections Gallery at Durham Cathedral will present a unique opportunity to see the only surviving copy of the 1216 issue of the Magna Carta and further issues from 1225 and 1300. Also on display will be one of only two surviving issues of the Forest Charter, from 1217, and further issues from 1225 and 1300.
But why are these documents so important? Here are ten facts to highlight the significance of the Magna Carta and the Forest Charter.