Friday, 7 August 2009

Durham /Dunholm : Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****




Durham (pronounced /ˈdʌrəm/, locally [ˈdʏrəm]) is a city lying in County Durham in England.
Durham is well known for its Norman Cathedral and 11th-century castle, and is home to Durham University. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre.




Name
The name "Durham" comes from the Old English "dun", meaning hill, and the Old Norse "holme", which translates to island. The Lord Bishop of Durham takes a Latin variation of the city's name in his apostolic signature, which is signed "N. Dunelm." Some attribute the city's name to the legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid who in legend guided the monks of Lindisfarne carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert to the site of the present city in 995 AD. Dun Cow Lane is said to be one of the first streets in Durham, being directly to the east of Durham Cathedral and taking its name from a depiction of the city's founding etched in masonry on the south side of the cathedral. The city has been known by a number of names throughout history. The original Nordic Dun Holm was changed to Duresme by the Normans and was known in Latin as Dunelm. The modern form Durham came into use later in the city's history. The north eastern historian, Robert Surtees chronicled the name changes in his History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham but states that it is an "impossibility" to tell when the city's modern name came into being.

Early history
Archeological evidence suggests a history of settlement in the area since roughly 2000 BC. The present city can clearly be traced back to AD 995, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there.


Saint Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral

Legend of founding of Durham
Local legend states that the city was founded in AD 995 by divine intervention. The 12th-century chronicler Symeon of Durham recounts that after wandering in the north, Saint Cuthbert’s bier came to a miraculous halt at the hill of Warden Law and, despite the effort of the congregation, would not move. Aldhun, Bishop of Chester-le-Street and leader of the order decreed an holy fast of three days, accompanied by prayers to the saint. Saint Bede recounts that during this fast Saint Cuthbert appeared to the monk Eadmer with instructions that the coffin should be taken to Dun Holm.


After Eadmer’s revelation, Aldhun found that he was able to move the bier, but did not know where Dun Holm was. By chance later that day the monks came across a milkmaid at Mount Joy (to the south east of present-day Durham) who stated to she was seeking her lost dun cow which she had last seen at Dun Holm. The monks, realising that this was a sign from the saint, followed her. They settled at a: "wooded hill-island formed by a tight gorge-like meander of the River Wear" When they arrived at the destination they erected the vestiges of Durham Cathedral, a "modest building" none of which survives today having been supplanted by the Norman structure. Symeon states that this was the first building in the city.




Medieval history

A map of the city from 1610

In mediaeval times the city found spiritual prominence because it was the final resting place of Saint Cuthbert and Saint Bede the Venerable. Before the Reformation the shrine of Saint Cuthbert, situated behind the High Altar of Durham Cathedral, was the most important religious site in England until the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury.
Saint Cuthbert was famed for two reasons: Firstly, the miraculous healing powers he had displayed in life extended into death with many stories of those visiting the saint’s shrine being cured of all manner of diseases. This lead to him being known as the "wonder worker of England". Secondly, after the first translation of his relics in 698 AD, his body was found to be incorruptible. Despite a brief translation back to Holy Island during the Norman Invasion the saint's relics remain enshrined to the present day. Saint Bede's bones are also entombed in the cathedral, drawing the mediaeval pilgrim to the city.
Durham’s geographical position has always given it an important position in the defence of England against the Scots. The city has played an important part in the defence of the north and Durham Castle is the only Norman castle keep never to have suffered a breach. The Battle of Neville's Cross which took place near the city on 17 October 1346 between the English and Scots is the most famous battle of the age.
The city suffered from a number of plague outbreaks in 1544, 1589 and 1598.

Prince Bishops
Owing to divine providence of the city’s founding, the Bishop of Durham has always enjoyed the title “Bishop by Divine Providence” opposed to all other bishops who are “Bishop by Divine Right”. However, as the north east was so far from Westminster the bishops of Durham enjoyed extraordinary powers such as the ability to hold their own parliament, raise their own armies, appoint their own sheriffs and Justices, administer their own laws, levy taxes and customs duties, create fairs and markets, issue charters, salvage shipwrecks, collect revenue from mines, administer the forests and mint their own coins. So far reaching were the bishop’s powers that the steward of Bishop Anthony Bek commented in 1299 AD: “There are two kings in England, namely the Lord King of England, wearing a crown in sign of his regality and the Lord Bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown, in sign of his regality in the diocese of Durham” All this activity was administrated from the castle and buildings surrounding the Palace Green. Many of the original buildings associated with these functions of the County Palatine are still to be found on the peninsular.
Every Bishop of Durham from 1071 to 1836 was a Prince Bishop except for the first Norman-appointed Bishop Walcher who was styled an Earl-Bishop. Although the term prince bishop has been used as a helpful tool in the understanding the functions of the Bishops of Durham it is not a title they would have recognised. The last Prince Bishop of Durham Bishop William Van Mildert credited with the foundation of Durham University. Henry VIII curtailed some of the Prince-Bishop's powers and, in 1538, ordered the destruction of the shrine of Saint Cuthbert.

Civil War and Commonwealth (1640 to 1660)
The city remained loyal to King Charles I throughout the Civil War. Charles I came to Durham two times during his reign. Firstly, he came to the cathedral for a majestic service in which he was entertained by the Chapter and Bishop at great expense at the start of his reign. His second visitation to the city came towards the end of the Civil War, escaping from the city as Oliver Cromwell’s forces got closer. Local legend stated he escaped down the The Bailey and through Old Elvet. Another local legend has it that Cromwell stayed in a room in the present Royal County Hotel on Old Elvet during the Civil War. The room is reputed to be haunted by his ghost. Durham suffered greatly during the Civil War and Commonwealth. This was not due to direct assault by Cromwell but the abolition of the Church of England and the closure of religious institutions pertaining to it. The city has always relied upon the Dean and Chapter and cathedral as an economic force.
The castle suffered considerable damage and dilapidation during the Commonwealth due to the abolition of the office of bishop whose residence it was. Cromwell confiscated the castle and sold it to the Mayor of London shortly after taking it from the bishop. A similar fate befell the Cathedral, it being closed in 1650 and used to incarcerate 3,000 Scottish prisoners. Graffiti left by them can still be seen today etched into the interior stone.
At the Restoration in 1660, John Cosin (a former Canon) was appointed bishop and set about a major restoration project. This included the commissioning of the famous elaborate woodwork in the cathedral choir and the Black Staircase in the castle. Other renovations were carried out to both the city and cathedral by his successor Bishop Lord Nathaniel Crewe.

Eighteenth century
In 1720 it was proposed that Durham could become a sea port by digging a canal north to join the River Team, a tributary of the River Tyne near Gateshead. Nothing came of the plan, but the statue of Neptune in the Market Place was a constant reminder of Durham's maritime possibilities.
The thought of ships docking at the Sands or Millburngate remained fresh in the minds of Durham businessmen. In 1759, a new proposal hoped to make the Wear navigable from Durham to Sunderland by altering the river's course, but the increasing size of ships made this impractical. This was further compounded by the fact Newcastle upon Tyne had grown as the north east's main port and centre for shipping.
The eighteenth century also saw the rise of the Trades Union movement in the city.

Nineteenth century
The Great Reform Act, 1832 saw the removal of the Prince Bishop’s powers, although he still has the right to a seat in the House of Lords and is regarded as the third most senior bishop in the Church of England. The Court of Claims of 1953 granted the traditional right of the bishop to accompany the sovereign at the coronation, reflecting his seniority.
The first census, conducted in 1801, states that Durham City had a population of 7,100. The Industrial Revolution mostly passed the city by. However, the city was well-known as a carpet making and weaving. Although most of the mediaeval weavers who thrived in the city had left by the nineteenth century, the city was the home of Hugh MacKay Carpets’ factory, which produced the famous brands of axminster and tufted carpets until the factory was forced into administration in April 2005. Other important industries were the manufacture of mustard and coal extraction.
The Industrial Revolution also placed the city at the heart of the coal fields, the county’s main industry until the 1970s. Practically every village around the city boasted a coal mine and, although these have since disappeared as part of the regional decline in heavy industry, the proud traditions, heritage and community spirit are still evident. The city also saw the creation of the world’s first passenger railway in 1825.
The nineteenth century also saw the founding of Durham University thanks to the benevolence of Bishop William Van Mildert and the Chapter in 1832. Durham Castle became the first college (University College, Durham) and the Bishop moved to Auckland Castle as his only residence in the county.
The first Durham Miners' Gala was held in 1871 and remains the largest socialist trades union event in the world.

General geography
Durham is situated 13 miles (21 km) to the south west of Sunderland, England. The River Wear flows north through the city, making an incised meander which encloses the centre on three sides to create Durham's "peninsula". Durham is a hilly city, claiming to be built upon the symbolic seven hills. Upon the most central and prominent position high above the Wear, the cathedral dominates the skyline. The steep riverbanks are densely wooded, adding to the picturesque beauty of the city. West of the city centre, another river, the River Browney, drains south to join the Wear to the south of the city.
Durham won the Large Town award in the Britain in Bloom awards of 2005.
The county town of County Durham, Durham is located in the former City of Durham local government district, which extended beyond the city, and had a total population of 87,656, and covered 186.68 square kilometres. The unparished area of Durham had a population of 29,091, whilst the built-up area of Durham had a population of 42,939.
The centre of Durham sits on a peninsula created by the River Wear. At the base of the peninsula is the Market Place, which still hosts regular markets; a permanent indoor market is also situated just off the Market Place. The Market Place and surrounding streets are one of the main commercial and shopping areas of the city. From the Market Place, The Bailey leads south past Palace Green; The Bailey is almost entirely owned and occupied by the university and the cathedral.
There are three old roads out of the Market Place: Saddler Street heads south-east, towards Elvet Bridge, The Bailey and Prebends Bridge. Elvet Bridge leads to the Elvet area of the city, Durham Prison and the South; Prebends Bridge is smaller and provides access from The Bailey to South Durham. Heading west, Silver Street leads out of the Market Place towards Framwellgate Bridge and North Road, the other main shopping area of the city. From here, the city spreads out into the Framwelgate, Crossgate, Neville's Cross and viaduct districts, the other main shopping area of the city. Beyond the viaduct lie the outlying districts of Framwellgate Moor and Neville's Cross. Heading north from the Market Place leads to Claypath. The road curves back round to the east and beyond it lie Gilesgate, Gilesgate Moor and Dragonville.
Many of the inner city areas are now inhabited by students living in shared houses. In some roads as many as 70% of the dwellings are occupied by students.

Historical


South Bailey, including parts of St John's College and St Cuthbert's Society









Elvet Bridge towards Old Elvet

The historical city centre of Durham has changed little over the past 200 years. It is made up of the peninsula containing the cathedral, palace green, former administrative buildings for the palatine and Durham Castle. This was a strategic defensive decision by the city's founders and gives the cathedral a striking position. So much so that Symeon of Durham stated:
"To see Durham is to see the English Sion and by doing so one may save oneself a trip to Jerusalem"
Sir Walter Scott was so inspired by the view of the cathedral from South Street that he wrote "Harold the Dauntless", a poem about Saxons and Vikings set in County Durham and published on 30 January 1817. The following lines from the poem are carved into a stone tablet on Prebends Bridge:
"Grey towers of Durham Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot And long to roam those venerable aisles With records stored of deeds long since forgot."

The old commercial section of the city encompasses the peninsula on three sides, following the River Wear. The peninsula was historically surrounded by the castle wall extending from the castle keep and broken by two gatehouses to the north and west of the enclosure. After extensive remodelling and "much beautification" by the Victorians the walls were removed with the exception of the gatehouse which is still standing on the Bailey.
The medieval city was made up of the cathedral, castle and administrative buildings on the peninsula. The outlying areas were known as the townships and owned by the bishop the most famous of these being Gilesgate (which still contains the mediaeval St Giles Church), Claypath and Elvet.
The outlying commercial section of the city, especially around the North Road area, saw much change in the 1960s during a redevelopment spearheaded by Durham City Council, however, much of the original mediaeval street plan remains intact in the area close to the cathedral and market place. Most of the mediaeval buildings in the commercial area of the city have disappeared apart from the House of Correction and the Chapel of Saint Andrew, both under Elvet Bridge. Georgian buildings can still be found on the Bailey and Old Elvet most of which make up the colleges of Durham University.

Climate
Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Durham has a temperate climate. At 643.3 millimetres (25 in) the average annual rainfall is lower than the national average of 1,125 millimetres (44 in). Equally there are only around 121.3 days where more than 1 millimetre (0.04 in) of rain falls compared with a national average of 154.4 days. The area sees on average 1374.6 hours of sunshine per year, compared with a national average of 1125.0 hours. There is an air frost on 52 days compared with a national average of 55.6 days. Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures are 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) and 5.2 °C (41.4 °F) compared with a national averages of 12.1 °C (53.8 °F) and 5.1 °C (41.2 °F) respectively.



Durham Cathedral


Durham Cathedral from Elvet


The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham, commonly referred to as Durham Cathedral was founded in its present form in AD 1093 and remains a centre for Christian worship today. It is generally regarded as one of the finest examples of a Norman cathedral in Europe and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green, high above the River Wear.
The Cathedral houses the shrine and related treasures of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, and these are on public view. It is also home to the head of St Oswald of Northumbria and the remains of the Venerable Bede.


Durham Castle


Durham Castle, view of the keep


The Castle was originally built in the eleventh century as a projection of the Norman power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained rebellious following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an excellent example of the early motte and bailey castles favoured by the Normans. The holder of the office of Bishop of Durham was appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf and the castle was the centre of his command.
It remained the Bishop's palace for the Bishops of Durham until the Bishop William Van Mildert made Bishop Auckland their primary residence. A founder of Durham University, Van Mildert gave the castle as accommodation for the institution's first college, University College. The castle was famed for its vast Great Hall, created by Bishop Antony Bek in the early fourteenth century. It was the largest Great Hall in Britain until Bishop Richard Foxe shortened it at the end of the Fifteenth century . However, it is still 14 m high and over 30 m long. The castle has been in continuous use for over 900 years and is the only castle in the United Kingdom never to have suffered a breach.

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