Looking for a summer pilgrimage? Go see these 1300-year-old treasures at Durham Cathedral


Treasures such as St Cuthbert's pectoral cross will also go on displayDurham Cathedral

Treasures dating back more than 1,300 years and linked to St Cuthbert himself will be unveiled at Durham Cathedral later this summer.

Following years of environmental monitoring, the legendary saint's coffin from 687AD will be on display as part of the Cathedral's multi-million pound exhibition.

According to legend, after Cuthbert's death his body was buried on Lindisfarme, an island off the UK's north-east coast. But when the coffin was opened eleven years later Cuthbert's remains were found not to have decayed, with his clothes apparently still in pristine condition.

Since then Cuthbert's remains have become a point of pilgrimage that continues today.

St Cuthbert's clothing fragments will form part of the displayDurham Cathedral

The threat of Viking invasion led to monks moving the relics to Durham and they were enshrined when the cathedral was built in 1104.

'The upcoming display marks a new phase in the life of Durham Cathedral, one of the largest pilgrimage sites in England,' a statement from the Cathedral read.

Images of Christ, the Virgin, apostles and archangels are still visible on oak fragments of the coffin which a Cathedral spokesman said was 'one of the most important wooden artefacts to have survived since before the Norman Conquest'.

The pectoral cross, portable altar, comb and vestments buried with Cuthbert, and which he may have used during his lifetime, will also be part of the display.

St Cuthbert's coffin, which still has fragments of the original wood dating back more than 1,300 years, will be the centrepiece of the displayDurham Cathedral

The Dean of Durham, Andrew Tremlett, said it is not possible to understand the north east of England without St Cuthbert, Lindisfarme, which is known as the Holy Island and the Northern Saints.

'St Cuthbert continues to play a unique role in the region and in the life of the Cathedral, with his Shrine remaining an important place of pilgrimage and worship' he said. 'I am delighted to see Open Treasure enter a new phase as these treasures are once again made available to the public. I commend the hard work of our exhibitions staff in making this possible and extend our grateful thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all other funders who have contributed to this project.'

The Dean of Durham, Very Rev Andrew Tremlett.Durham Cathedral

The announcement comes after Durham Cathedral was awarded Heritage Site of the Year, beating Stonehenge, Rutland Water, Tenby and Skara Brae in a 'landslide' vote. 

Announcing the BBC's Countryfile Magazine's award, Bill Bryson said: 'I have a sentimental attachment to Durham because I was Chancellor at the University for seven years, so was constantly in and out of the cathedral. Almost 1,000 years old, it is unquestionably one of the supreme achievements of the architectural world, and the most thoroughly satisfying building I know – a wonder to behold from every possible vantage point, inside and out.'

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