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Durham

a day trip the the quaint town on a hill

The first class excursion the class went to was Durham, about an hour north of York. Once we got off the train, we were immediately greeted with a high view of the city, and it was unbelievable:
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We walked through town to the cathedral and castle which can be seen in the picture from the train station. We turned the corner and saw the cathedral. Needless to say, we were pretty awestruck.

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What makes this beautiful building even more beautiful is it's complicated history. (Can you believe that coming from me :P) It was originally built around the shrine to Saint Cuthburt. His remains are actually still in the church with a shrine for prayer and reflection. His bones were thrown into the yard during Henry VIII's sacking but eventually were put back into a more modest grave. Behind the grave is an intricate insert with lots of empty spaces- it looked like a huge multi-faceted picture frame. There were originally gold statues in there, but they were removed and buried before Henry VIII could get them....and never found. So somewhere there is lots of gold statues buried.

(We are entering the section where all pictures taken were taken illegaly because no photography was allowed in the cathedral or the castle. Therefore they are weird angles and poorly exposed.)

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The other end held the tomb of the Venerable Bede, who was a monk, theologian, historian, and general academic in the medieval times. It also is what used to be the women's chapel because women were not allowed too close to a place so holy such as the grave of St. Cuthbert. There are so many other fascinating and great things in the Cathedral but I can't talk about everything :)

The next place we visited was Durham Castle. This castle is, once again, quite scenic

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My favorite place in the castle was the old Norman Chapel. This chapel is uniquely preserved in the Norman style because it was closed off for a few hundred years. It has an Anglo-Saxon floor(pictured left), which is not normal for Norman chapel and quite possibly because the all the Norman masons were tied up with the Cathedral. It also has carvings of a mermaid and The Green Man, which is a pagan symbol. This is possibly because they were trying to incorporate aspects of the pagan religion to Christianity to make it more digestible to the pagans.
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[Sorry for the poor angles. I was trying to sneak a picture without being caught]

Again there were lots of cool things in the castle. Unfortunately, I was less fortunate in sneaking pictures of these. One interesting feature is the second chapel built by Bishop Tunstall. It was built during the reign of Henry VIII and the religious turmoil. He built it to satisfy the Catholics but built it modestly to satisfy the Protestants. He spent his life converting between the two depending who was the ruler at the time, ultimately dying in the Tower of London because he wanted to die a Catholic even though Elizabeth I was Protestant.

I suppose the best way to end this post would be the pretty scenic views of Durham as a whole.

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Posted by Kateogan 13:24 Archived in England Tagged sunset england cathedral castle scenic durham cuthbert Comments (0)

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