What is Durham's Significance?

Durham is a fortified peninsula on the River Wear; home to one of Europe's greatest cathedrals and a castle built by William the Conqueror, it was the seat of the Prince Bishops.

The Castle's Norman Chapel (above left), dating to around 1072, is Durham's oldest surviving building. It pre-dates the monumental vaulted Cathedral Nave (above right), renowned as a break-through in architectural technology, by around 20 years.

Durham Cathedral and Castle were inscribed on the World Heritage List because of:

  • The site’s exceptional architecture demonstrating architectural innovation
  • The visual drama of the Cathedral and Castle on the peninsula and the associations of the site with notions of romantic beauty
  • The site's role as a political statement as one of Britain's most powerful symbols of the Norman Conquest
  • The physical expression of the spiritual and secular powers of the medieval Prince-Bishops that the defended complex provides
  • The relics and material culture of the three saints (Cuthbert, Bede and Oswald) buried at the site, and the cultural and religious traditions and historical memories associated with them
  • The importance of the site's archaeological remains, which are directly related to its history and use over time
  • The continuity of use and ownership of the site as a place of religious worship, learning and residence over the past 1000 years