Friday, April 10, 2015

Durham Cathedral, Part A - Anglophile Friday


It was an overcast and cold day, and I'm sure everything is more beautiful once the trees have leafed out and the flowers are in bloom, but we feel so privileged to have visited this town and cathedral.



Durham Cathedral, north side

The foundation stone of the current cathedral was laid in 1093.

I read 'It's well worth a visit if you're in Durham...' on TripAdvisor. Really? If you just happen to be in Durham?? Actually, it's well worth traveling by train from London to see this stunning cathedral, a glorious testament to the message of Christ, and to reflect upon the fact that there has been a Christian presence on this spot since A.D. 997.


Durham Cathedral, exterior, east

Durham Cathedral, northeast

 Today I'm only going to show a few exterior photos (some of which Mr. C. took) because first I want to tell you 'why' the cathedral was built where it is. While we were standing outside the cathedral, I saw a street sign, 'Dun Cow Lane,' on a house across from the cathedral,  And, because my brain gets stuck on stuff like that, it mattered to me. 'What's the Dun Cow?' I remember asking. I was determined to find out what it was all about.



After we got home, I picked up my Kindle with it's copy of Bell's Cathedrals - Durham, to read aloud to Mr. C. as we were traveling to Minneapolis to visit our granddaughter. Voila! There it was, The Dun Cow.

So here's the story, because I know you're dying to find out. St. Cuthbert was a monk, bishop and hermit* of Lindisfarne who lived in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Anyway, leaving out a lot of important information, we'll get on to the part about him dying. It just so happened that we were there on the weekend of the March 20 St. Cuthbert Festival. He died on March 20, A.D. 687, and I still don't know why they memorialize the date of someone's death. My guess is that they don't know a lot about his birth day.

*Some Christians thought that leading a solitary life would make them more spiritual. It didn't work out so well for a lot of people; rather, it made some of them pretty strange, and actually isn't in line with Christ's teaching, but who am I to argue with St. Cuthbert.



Excerpts from Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Durham A Description of Its Fabric and A Brief History of the Episcopal See. (You can get the Kindle edition FREE from Amazon!)

'Obediently to his own request, his body was wrapped in a linen cloth...and placed in a stone coffin...[and] was interred in the church at Lindisfarne...In A.D. 698 the monks disinterred his remains in order to place them in a specially-prepared wooden coffin.'

More than 150 years went by, and I'm embarrassed to say that my uncouth ancestors, the Danes, repeatedly brought trouble to their shores. The monks feared for their lives and the safety of the holy relics, so they fled from there in A.D. 875, taking the remains of St. Cuthbert, sacred vessels, and books. (I totally get that.) They wandered throughout northern England and Ireland, carrying their saint, etc. with them (reminds me of a Brother Cadfael episode, which, by the way, was based on history).

Bear with me. I am getting to the point, however circuitous a route I may be taking.


While they were on the east side of [Durham], 'they could not with all their Force remove his body further, for it seemed fastened to the Ground.' The monks fasted and prayed for guidance as to where they could settle with their saint.

'...it being revealed to Eadmer, a virtuous Man, that he should be carried to Dunholme, where he was to be received to a Place of Rest.'  

 Much to our relief, the natives were friendly

Unfortunately, they didn't know where Dunholme was, and evidently, like most men, didn't like asking directions, but...

'...as they proceeded, a Woman wanting her Cow, called aloud to her Companion, to know if she had seen her? Who answered, She was in Dunholme.'

You can imagine how relieved the monks must have been to hear this news. They arrived at Dunholme in the Year 997. For nearly three hundred years, generations of monks had been carrying that coffin from place to place. What an example of devotion and perseverance!

The Dun Cow
Image from DurhamWorldHeritageSite.com


'The Dun Cow: Arrived at Dunholm they raised a "little Church of Wands and Branches" to protect the sacred relics until a building more worthy of such a charge could be erected. This was the beginning of the Cathedral and City of Durham.'

Bell's Cathedrals is full of fascinating, detailed information about the Cathedral, and it is so much fun to read, having been there and able to picture the parts of the cathedral and architectural detail it describes. I'm learning new definitions for words, e.g. that 'lozenge' doesn't only refer to a tablet to soothe a sore throat.

BTW, George Gently fans might be surprised, as I was, to learn that the filming of the shoot-out in Gently in the Cathedral actually was shot in the nave of Durham Cathedral, (educational purposes, I'm sure) but I learned that from The Guardian, not from Bell's Cathedrals.

Durham Castle (left) and Cathedral

MUCH more to follow.

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This post is linked to:

InSPIREd Sunday 


 
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43 comments:

Margaret Adamson said...

Architecturally this is a beautiful building.

eileeninmd said...

Good morning, what an interesting story.. I love the cathedral, it is beautiful. A very scenic place to visit..Awesome post and photos. Have a happy Friday and weekend ahead!

Michelle said...

Stunning details on this building!

Nancy's Notes said...

Fascinating post, love it! The photographs of the Castle and Cathedral is just stunning!

Arlene said...

I feel like I have just been to England this morning Judy! I love the bit about the men wandering around, hating to ask for directions.lol. I know it was tongue in cheek but I had to chuckle. I love Cadfael so I can visualize these men. Looking forward to more!

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

I am way behind visiting my favourite blogs, and even writing new posts, but this one of yours popped up and, of course, I had to comment. Lovely post - really entertaining. I'm glad the natives were friendly - they certainly look it. of course Durham is a place everyone should visit!

John's Island said...

Hi Cranberry Morning, I am not sure if you have followed my blog enough to know what a history buff I am but, thanks to your kind comment on my blog, I just found your wonderful post here on your visit to Durham Cathedral. Wow, what a lot of neat info you've packed into this post and the photos are great. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Kay said...

Judy, a fascinating story, and I read the whole thing! What a fun place to visit to see all the relics, and what devotion from the monks. Almost insanity?

Lynne said...

Loved the Cathedral . . . stunning . . .
and the Dun Cow story too . . .

Jacquelineand.... said...

What a gorgeous cathedral; I love rose windows, and this has a particularly good example.
Interesting tale: I doubt that St. Cuthbert was the first, or last, man to be led to God and/or his rest by a recalcitrant cow. ;-)

Sandra said...

beautiful architecture and the different sides could be two different buildings. that is some tale of the coffin traveling so many years. and the only thing i could think is..are you ready for this???

they done starved that poor cow to death... look at those ribs sticking out....

J_on_tour said...

Wow, it's a bit surreal reading this post.
I love the trip advisor comment ... like it's not going to be something you don't notice.
I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't remember the significance of The Dun Cow even though I do re-call half of the story from one of the guides a while back. Growing up as a child near a local pub with the same name has clouded my judgement and memory of such a name :-)
As far as the train goes, I'm passing it tomorrow morning at an unearthly hour on my way to Peterborough.
Can't believe the locals got snapped in such a manner in the post LOL, hope they treated you well :-)

L. D. said...

You have some wonderful photos of such an old historic area. It is a beautiful castle and all the other buildings around it. The date it was first started is almost unbelievable.

TexWisGirl said...

thanks for winding thru to the reason for dun cow. :)

Heide at ApronHistory said...

I had heard the story of St. Cuthbert's remains, but not the cow part. Fascinating!

Ginny said...

WHAT a story! I can just picture them all carrying that coffin on their journey. And the woman's cow saved the day! How many were there? This church is HUGE!!! I wonder what all the space is used for? I guess there are many weddings and celebrations there. Is there a congregation and regular services? Do they have tours?

Pamela Gordon said...

This is a very interesting post Judy. I can't imagine carrying the remains of a monk for 3 years trying to find a 'home' for him. The history is very fascinating though and I thank you for sharing it. I hope you have a nice weekend. Is it greening there yet?

Terri D said...

I am always truly amazed at the architecture in those ancient buildings, in awe at how they accomplished what they did without the modern tools of today. We could also use a bit of the great faith and perseverance shown by people like those Monks. My goodness. I look forward to your next installment!!

Karen S. said...

What an interesting read this was, and your photos are great, even for the weather. Especially where the green grass is so very rich in color! I like that sweet cow too! Great architecture!

Tired Teacher said...

I love the historical background. Thanks for sharing it along with your amazing photos.

CraveCute said...

Your photos are gorgeous! Then I got distracted by Muker the sheep in your side barr, and started feeding and petting him and he baaaaaad and gave me hearts. haha

Katie Clooney said...

Gorgeous photos and I feel like I was by your side for the tour! Great post.

Vee said...

Well that was an interesting and odd story. Though the dragging of the coffin around for hundreds of years did show devotion (I guess), it also showed a whole lot of meaningless activity. You know how the mind leaps to make connections? All I could think is that Matthew and Marilla's surname in Anne of Green Gables was "Cuthbert."

Lulu James said...

I love your travelogue! Very interesting AND AS ALWAYS--great pictures!

Missy George said...

Love this architecture..Awesome photos..Interesting

Mama Hen said...

So beautiful! :) I love the pictures you share all of the time! They always make me want to travel. Have a lovely weekend!

Mama Hen

Anita Johnson said...

I agree with everyone above... I have seen something beautiful through your eyes and words that I would have never known about...that is the best part of the web! I look forward to your next post!

Carla from The River said...

Love it! And I can not wait for more. Thank you for adding the history.
Carla

Cloudia said...

Gosh you introduced us to some venerable roots!


ALOHA from Honolulu,
ComfortSpiral
=^..^=

J Bonafilla said...

And now this place is definitely on my list of places to go and see. Thank you for the inspiration! All the best, Bonny

Gerald (SK14) said...

I was aware of the travels of St Cuthbert's body but didn't know the full story of the Dun Cow.

doodles n daydreams said...

Great photos and an interesting story.

Diana

Tom said...

A spectacular place! Tom The Backroads Traveller

".E." Lizard Breath Speaks, It's Beth said...

gorgeous!! all those spires. i bet it is just breathtaking inside. wow wee!! sometimes i wonder if words are enough. great views. i want to see it please. have a great weekend. so happy you shared with us. big big hugs. ( :

Liz said...

Lovely place and your story about the street name was very interesting!
Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

Mildred said...

Such grand architecture and interesting information. Thanks for sharing your stunning photos.

RedPat said...

That's quite a story!

Judy S. said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous trip, Judy. Isn't it interesting how different each of the cathedrals are? So much history! I always wish they could talk. Congrats on the "new" grand kids. That must have been quite a surprise. Sons are intriguing fellows, aren't they?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Durham looks like a beautiful cathedral and the story about the Dunn Cow was so interesting!

Bill Nicholls said...

Never been there though it is a bit far north
http://graveplace.blogspot.co.uk/

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

I really enjoyed this post and I'm patiently waiting to go inside now!

Jibber JabberUK said...

We were in Durham this Sunday and we always make sure we visit the Cathedral. My husband as a child used to live in a village just outside of Durham so we try to up at least once a year. One of our favourite pubs in Durham is called the Dun Cow.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Judy, I'm so glad you got to make another trip to England! And now you have more beautiful photos and stories for us.

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