Durham and Leeds 2003


These photographs were taken during a 4 day stay in Durham with my friend Carl and a 3 day visit near Leeds with my friends Russel and Sue in September 2003. The camera was a Canon EOS 600 and the film was a mixture of Fuji Sensia and Ilford Delta 400 which I got free on the front cover of a photography magazine.



Photograph of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral


Durham Cathedral is a major attraction in the city. It is the last resting place of St. Cuthbert, St. Bede and the head of St. Oswald. Large parts of the present buiding date back some 900 years. Construction of the cathedral began in 1093 and it was completed in 1135. This view was taken from the riverside footpath, where picturesque shots of the cathedral are easy to find.



Photograph of 'Durham Cow' by Andrew Burton
'Durham Cow' by Andrew Burton


Along the riverside near the cricket ground and the bandstand lies a sculpture called Durham Cow by Andrew Burton. This is a reminder of the legend that tells of how Durham was founded.

The legend begins with St. Cuthbert, a seventh century Northumbrian saint. Cuthbert had been a famous monk and after his death at 52 years, he was buried on the island of Lindisfarne. A few years later, monks decided to remove the coffin for inspection, and discovered that his body had not decayed. This was seeen as a miracle and he was declared a saint. This attracted much interest and wealth to Lindisfarne through tourism and in 793 the Vikings began to plunder the island. The monks eventually fled to the mainland with St. Cuthberts coffin and other valuable relics.

The monks wandered for many years, and in 995 whilst carrying the coffin they came to rest at a hill called Warden Law to the east of Durham's present position. The carrying vehicle had become stuck and would not move. After meditation and prayer, one of the monks saw a vision in which St. Cuthbert instructed that the coffin should be taken to a place called Dun Holm. The monks had not heard of this place, but may have known that the name meant Hill Island ('Dun' was an anglo saxon word for hill and Holm was a word of Scandinavian origin meaning Island). Dun Holm was later called Deresme by the Normans and Dunelm in Latin. Over the years, the name has changed to todays form: Durham.

The monks were now able to move the coffin, and asked local people where Dun Holm was. Noone knew of this place but the monks eventually overheard a conversation between two milkmaids, one asking the other if she had seen her 'Dun cow'. The other maid said that she had seen the cow roaming near Dun Holm. The monks followed the maid to the area which was a wooded hill-island peninsula located at a tight turn of the river Wear. This site would be a good resting place for St. Cuthberts coffin and could be easily defended.

Initially a church was built on the site, then a minster and this was eventually replaced by the current cathedral, which was completed in 1135.


Photograph of the Cathedral and monastry cloisters
Cathedral and monastry cloisters


A monastry adjoins the cathedral and was founded in 1083 by Bishop Carileph and was both a home and workplace for a community of Benedictine monks. This community existed here for over 450 years until it was dissolved in 1540. This view of the monastry cloisters was taken using Ilford Delta 400 film. These cloisters were so heavily rebuilt in 1828 that little of the original fourteenth and fifteenth century work remains apart from the wooden roof.



Photograph of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral


Another view from the cloisters but this time looking up towards the West towers.



Photograph of Durham Cathedral and the old merchants houses on Church Street
Durham Cathedral and the old merchants houses on Church Street


There are 325 steps to the top of the Central tower of the cathedral, but from here there are panoramic views of Durham. Looking across to the West towers, the old merchant's houses on South Street can be seen in the background. They are much larger then they appear from their road frontage and and are now some of the most expensive houses in Durham City.



Photograph of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral


A walk along South Street provides a few views back towards the cathedral through gaps between the trees.



Photograph of Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral


This view was taken from Prebends bridge looking across the river. The stone plaque carries the following words written by Sir Walter Scott about the cathedral:


Grey towers of Durham
Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles
Half church of God half castle gainst the Scot
And long to rome these venerable aisles
Wth records stored of deeds long since forgot





Photograph of Russel and Sue
Russel and Sue



Photograph of Russel and Sue
Russel and Sue


© Copyright  Piers Pettman - This page last updated 08 July 2006
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