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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

IMEMS Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site Fellowships


Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) offers Postdoctoral Visiting Fellowships of up to three months to study Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and its significance in any aspect of its tangible and intangible heritage.

Applications for the World Heritage Site Fellowship are currently closed. Please check back here for future calls or subscribe to our mailing list, via our homepage, to receive notifications.

Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site Fellowships 2020/21

Call for Applications is now closed.

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies is an international centre for research in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period situated at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are a hub for interdisciplinary research with a vibrant community of scholars and postgraduate researchers working across all three faculties of the University. durham.ac.uk/imems

Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site

Durham was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee in 1986, and comprises Durham Cathedral and Castle and the buildings between them.

The Cathedral was built in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries to house the relics of St Cuthbert, evangelizer of Northumbria, and the Venerable Bede. 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. Beside the cathedral stands the castle, an ancient Norman fortress which was the residence of the prince-bishops of Durham, and which is still in use as a college.

Five key aspects of the Site are recognised as being of Outstanding Universal Value:

i) the Site’s exceptional architecture demonstrating architectural innovation, including the architectural design and construction techniques of the nave of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle’s Norman Chapel;

ii) the visual drama of the Cathedral and Castle on the peninsula and the associations with notions of romantic beauty, including the dramatic, dynamic skyline of Durham Cathedral and Castle;

iii) the physical expression of the spiritual and secular powers of the medieval Bishops Palatine that the defended complex provides;

iv) the relics and material culture of the three saints (Cuthbert, Bede, and Oswald) buried at the site;

v) and the continuity of use and ownership over the past 1000 years as a place of religious worship, learning and residence, and a focal point of community identity and cultural activity.


Current Fellow(s)


Previous Fellows


+Anouk Lafortune-Bernard

1 October - 1 December 2019

Anouk was based in the Archaeology Department at Durham University. Her research focused on the social and economic impact of cultural heritage and community engagement. Her PhD has analysed the social and economic impact of the development of Lumbini Birthplace of the Buddha and World Heritage Site on local communities. She has been affiliated with Durham University's UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage since 2016 and has conducted research at several World Heritage Sites in South Asia and Europe, as part of the Chair's research programme.

To View Anouk's Report Please Click Here

+Wahid Omran

01 November 2019-20 December 2019

Handicrafts are considered a sustainable means of livelihood of large proportion of the local community in Durham. Field-visits, interviews and survey with shopkeepers in Durham in order is important to prepare a list of 50 objects, photographing and, ideally purchasing them. Information concerning each object’s manufacture cost, recommended retail sale price, material and place of manufacture will also be recorded.

I then populated a table with 25 objects within the UNESCO World Heritage Visitor Centre. Visitors to the Centre were invited to select their favorite items as well as complete a survey form recording their preferences such as cost, local manufacture, theme etc. We will also record participant demographics. It is the first systematic survey of the corpus of handicrafts and souvenirs available for sale to visitors and pilgrims within Durham, as well as provide a preliminary understanding of their selection preferences and willingness to pay.