History of Durham City

Cathedral Heritage - Durham History

It’s always a real pleasure when one walks down the memory lane, especially when it comes to famous cities such as Durham and their origin.  

To know about the history of Durham city, it is one beautiful one in the UK that begins with 17 year old Northumbrian saint called St. Cuthbert, who during the 17th century had felt like becoming a monk when he entered this monastery of Melrose beside River Tweed. Few noteworthy hallmarks of his character including aesthetic talents, good mannerisms and definitely a reputation for finding miracles made everyone attracted to him, which ultimately fetched him accolades and he called as the ‘wonder worker of England’. Finally, he got appointed in the post of Bishop in Lindisfarne, an island situated just off the coast of Northumberland. 

Cuthbert secured a place in the hearts of many and continued doing his job, besides being busy with prayers and having sea birds and seals for company. On Inner Farne, he finally breathed his last in 687 AD when he had turned 52. As per an agreement made by the saint during his lifetime, the body was removed from Inner Farne and then taken to Lindisfarne for burial. It remained there for few years till monks thought of removing the coffin for inspection purposes. Surprisingly, the body was well intact and didn’t decay! This was more of a miraculous happening and Cuthbert was proclaimed as a saint. 

However, not everyone look this increasing attraction of the Lindisfarne monastery. There were the Vikings who had earlier visited the place for usual plunder and raid and hence, the monks decided to move the body to a safer location owing to them. For more than a century, they kept walking with the coffin through north England, sometimes settling for Chester-le-Street or Norham-on-Tweed, before finally moving in the Durham in 995 AD. 

Now there’s another legendary story behind it. When the monks kept wandering in the north, they had suddenly come to a halt on the Warden Law hill and couldn’t move the body anymore. A three day holy fast and prayers for the Saint was called in by the Bishop of Chester-le-Street (previously Saint Cuthbert was kept there). Saint Bede had recalled then how Cuthbert appeared before a monk, Eadmer and told him to take his coffin to ‘Dun Holm’. They had never heard of a place by the name then, but thankfully a milkmaid was found on Mount Joy, just south east to the site and was on the lookout for his Dun cow, who was last seen at Dun Holm. This was the sign and on arriving there, they found the structure of Durham Cathedral where the settlement kept growing. 

The name ‘Durham’ comes from an amalgamation of two words- ‘Dun’ meaning hill and ‘Holme’ for Norse for island. Besides, the legendary story of the milkmaid and Dun Cow originally gave way to the name of the county town and one of the first streets in the place called Dun Cow Lane. And this marks the real beginning when it comes to the history of Durham city. 

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Directions from Tyne Tees Locks to Crook Hall

Get on A1 in Gateshead from Forth St, A189 and A184
Take A1(M) to A690 in Durham. Take exit 62 from A1(M)
Continue on A690. Drive to Frankland Ln

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