UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Cathedral was built in the late 11th and early 12th 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.
Five key aspects of the Site are recognised as being of Outstanding Universal Value:
- 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;
- 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;
- the physical expression of the spiritual and secular powers of the medieval Bishops Palatine that the defended complex provides;
- the relics and material culture of the three saints, (Cuthbert, Bede, and Oswald) buried at the site;
- and the continuity of use and ownership over the past 1000 years as a place of religious worship, learning and residence.