Keys to the Past

Durham City, The White Church. (Durham City)

The site of Durham Cathedral has been continuously occupied by a church since AD 995, when the body of St. Cuthbert was taken there from Chester-Le-Street . A temporary, presumably wooden church structure erected over it. This was replaced in AD 998 by a church of stone built by Bishop Aldhun. This was known as the White Church. The building was completed by Bishop Eadmund. This building was still standing at the Norman Conquest, but was demolished in 1093 by Bishop Calais and replaced by the current Romanesque building. Archaeological excavation has shown little of the Anglo-Saxon building. The position of the early church (immediately south of the current nave), was worked out by St.John Hope before 1909. His work involved some excavation in the south-east corner of the cloister and examining the position of some early Norman buildings such as the prison and the east wall of the Prior's hall undercroft. An eye-witness account of the church written down in the 12th century describes a structure with two stone towers with bronze pinnacles, one at the west end and the other over the choir. This suggests a cross-shaped layout. An important collection of late Anglo-Saxon sculpture adds much detail to the picture of the church and can be seen in the Monk's Dormitory.The site is part of the wider Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site.

Reference number:D1254
Historical period: Early Medieval (410 to 1066)
Legal status:World Heritage Site
  • National Heritage List for England Entry Number: 1000089

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Durham City


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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.