Durham Cathedral’s Treasures of St Cuthbert have been returned to permanent display in their new home, the medieval Great Kitchen, within Open Treasure, the Cathedral’s multi-million pound exhibition space supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
This rare collection of Anglo Saxon artefacts includes the gold and garnet Pectoral Cross, the symbol of Durham Cathedral and the conserved coffin of St Cuthbert.
The Dean of Durham, The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, told Premier seeing the display for the first time “was a heart stopping moment” and he was looking forward to welcoming visitors to discover more about Cuthbert’s remarkable life and the gospel message his Treasures represent.
Dr Janina Ramirez, cultural historian, broadcaster and Anglo-Saxon specialist, speaking about The Treasures of St Cuthbert said “At their heart lies a unique individual who was both Anglo-Saxon warrior, and early Christian Bishop. Whose connection to the North of England means we can walk where he walked, and whose is arguably England's most important saint. To see the objects he handled and the treasures that accompanied him, both on his long journey from Lindisfarne to Durham, and from life to death, is to experience some of the finest history our nation has to offer.”
The display marks a new phase in the life of Durham Cathedral, one of the largest pilgrimage sites in England. St Cuthbert’s original Anglo-Saxon wooden coffin, made in 698 and recovered when his tomb was opened in 1827, form the centrepiece of the display. Images of Christ, the Virgin, apostles and archangels are still visible on these incredibly well preserved oak fragments, making this 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 this magnificent display.
Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton was invited to the official opening by the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham.