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Durham University

St Cuthbert's Society

About Cuth's

St Cuthbert’s Society is one of the largest and oldest student communities at Durham. Founded in 1888 as an alternative to collegiate living, it still retains that independence of spirit, but now offers its students all the advantages of being a college of Durham University. 

Cuth’s occupies two sites, with rooms and gardens on the historic Bailey in the heart of Durham, and self-catered, modern flats across the river at Parson’s Field. We thus provide a uniquely flexible range of accommodation and catering options to our diverse and international student body.

Cuth’s offers outstanding opportunities for student participation in sport, the arts and volunteering, which are supported by its exceptionally energetic Junior Common Room, as well as a lively programme of interdisciplinary lectures and events to enhance the academic experience. 

Depiction of St Cuthbert within Durham Cathedral

Who was St Cuthbert?

St Cuthbert's Society is named after St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (c. 634-20 March 687), who lived in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria as a monk, bishop and hermit.

During his lifetime Cuthbert was an influential prior, renowned for his patience and sensitivity, and highly regarded for his devotion and sanctity. After a period as a hermit Cuthbert was then made Bishop of Lindisfarne, but this honour was cut short by his death just two years later in 687.

Cuthbert was initially buried at Lindisfarne, and innumerous pilgrims journeyed to pay their respects to him. During this time a great many visitors reported miracles occurring as they stood at his grave. In 875 Danish invasion threatened Lindisfarne, so Cuthbert was excavated and was taken by the monks as they fled. They wandered for seven years before settling again at a church in Chester-le-Street, but when another invasion seemed imminent they continued on to Ripon.

It is written that following this they intended to return to Chester-le-Street but during their travels Cuthbert's coffin suddenly became immovable at a bend in the river. Taking this as a sign from the Saint, his shrine was erected on that very spot and thus became his final resting place. This is now the location for Durham Cathedral, home to his shrine and many treasures linked to St Cuthbert.

St Cuthbert is celebrated every year on his Feast day, the 20th March, and the Society is included in the Cathedral's celebration of the Saint. As well as this, the JCR Social Committee organises a large-scale formal dinner known as The Feast of St Cuthbert which takes place at around the same time.

The St Cuthbert's Society Shield depicts the gold and garnet Pectoral Cross of St Cuthbert, which was discovered the last time his coffin was opened in 1827.