Copyright Durham World Heritage

Durham Castle and Cathedral

The Cathedral and the Castle represented the enormous power of the medieval Prince-Bishops. Even after the Reformation in the sixteenth century, Durham remained the political, spiritual and governmental centre of the North East until well into the nineteenth century.


Durham Castle and Cathedral

Durham Cathedral was built between the late 11th and early 12th century to house the bodies of St. Cuthbert (634-687 AD) (the evangeliser of Northumbria) and the Venerable Bede (672/3-735 AD).

It attests to the importance of the early Benedictine monastic community and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture.

The Castle was the stronghold and residence of the Prince-Bishops of Durham, who were given virtual autonomy in return for protecting the northern boundaries of England, and thus held both religious and secular power.

Official website

Did you know..?

The construction of Durham Castle was done under the supervision of the last of the Anglo-Saxon earls, Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria. Just 3 years after his role, he rebelled against William the Conqueror and was beheaded in 1076.

Right now, the castle still serves as the college of Durham and is home to about 100 students!

The cathedral is more than 1,000 years old and is the resting place of two of Britain’s most important religious figures – St Cuthbert and St Bede.

It is said to be unlucky for Durham university students to climb the 325 steps to the top of the cathedral tower before they graduate.

Over 600,000 people pass through Durham Cathedral’s doors each year, and the building costs over £60,000 per week (around £6 per minute!) to maintain.


Location: County of Durham

Country: United Kingdom

Year of Inscription: 1986

UNESCO Criteria: (ii), (iv), (vi)

Contact information:

For more information about Durham Castle and Cathedral, visit the website

Copyright Durham World Heritage