Things You May Not Know About Durham

Durham has been described as the perfect city; however, how did it come to this distinction? There are many reasons that make the city an ideal place to live or visit! If you live in Durham or are coming for a visit, we’ve put together some interesting facts you may know about Durham!


The City’s Name

The name “Durham” comes from the Old English word for “dun,” which means “hill fort.” In Old Norse, “dun” means “holme” and translates into “island.” These words combine to create something like “Dun Hill” or “Dun” island.

However, some have said the name “Durham” comes from the legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid. The milkmaid helped the monks from Lindisfarne guide the body of St. Cuthbert to the city’s current location back in 995 AD. As a result, you’ll find a street named Dun Cow Lane, which is thought to be one of the first streets in the city.

There’s also a Latin version of the city’s name, which is “Dunelm.”

So, no matter which way you look, the name of Durham has some fascinating history attached to it!


Durham is an Ancient City

The area in and around the city has been settled since about 2000 BC. However, records show that Durham has existed since the year 995 AD, when the Lindisfarne monks brought St. Cuthbert to his final resting place.

In medieval times, the city became infamous as the final resting place of St. Cuthbert and St. Bede the Venerable. You’ll find the shrine of St. Cuthbert located just behind the high altar at Durham Cathedral. These saints drew pilgrims to the cathedral all during the Middle Ages.

In addition, the city was used as a place of defence to keep England safe from attacks by the Scots. It was long crucial for the defence of the northern part of the country. What’s more, Durham castle is the only Norman castle keep never to have experienced a breach.

From there, the history of Durham continues to be highly interesting!


The Conservation Area in Durham

The entire middle of Durham has been designated as a conservation area. This area was declared a conservation area in 1968, focusing on the peninsula. The conservation area was enlarged in 1980, which then included the centre of the city.

In the Conservation Area, you’ll find Durham Castle and Durham Cathedral. These buildings were designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986 and included the College and Prebends Bridge.

This central part of the city is considered one of the most important in Britain. You’ll find a preserved medieval town, the cathedral, castle, and many bridges here. The area’s layout is simple, with roads and streets coming off the marketplace. This is the historic core of the city.


Durham Cathedral Has Another Name

Not many people know that Durham Cathedral has also gone by another name. The beautiful medieval cathedral was once known as the Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin, and St. Cuthbert of Durham. Over time, the name was shortened to Durham Cathedral.

When visiting the cathedral, you can take a fantastic tour of the museum and learn all about the church’s history. Experience what life was like for the monks who lived there. And then explore the spaces where the museum’s collections are located. A 90-minute tour will take you back to a time over 1000 years ago!

The cathedral collections house more than 75,000 objects! The collection includes nativity figures, medieval manuscripts, ancient stone crosses, and more.


Charles Dickens Visited Durham

Charles Dickens once visited the city! It’s said that Bowes Castle provided him with inspiration for some of his novels. He visited the city in the 1830s.


CS Lewis Visited Durham

The famous writer, CS Lewis, also visited the city. According to the city’s history, Lewis found inspiration for his novel, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” At the time, he was working as a lecturing professor at Durham University.


Durham is the Hometown of English Mustard

Another amazing fact you may not realise is that Durham is the hometown of English mustard! While Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, was the original home of the country’s mustard, in 1720, a woman by the name of Mrs. Clements found a new way to make tasty mustard.

Mrs. Clements found a new method to extract the most flavour from mustard seeds, resulting in mustard with a stronger taste. Later, Colmans of Norwich took over the production of the mustard!


Home to the Tallest Man in Europe

Durham is also known for being home to the tallest man in Europe. The title was held by Neil Fingleton, who overtook Christopher Green as the tallest man in Europe. Fingleton was 7ft 7.56 inches! He was born in 1980 and starred in a movie with Keanu Reeves, Mila Kunis. He also played the giant “Mag the Mighty” in the Game of Thrones TV series.


Durham Has a Famous Ghost!

Durham Castle was built in the 11th century but is currently home to about 100 students. However, it was also once the home of Frederick Copeman, who was one of the first students to attend Durham University in the 19th century.

It’s said that he failed his exams and then jumped to his death from the Cathedral Tower. Later, it was found that he had passed his exams; however, his name was hidden by a pin holding the list of names to the wall.

Copeman’s room, Room 21, is no longer used. Students and staff have said they feel poltergeist activity in the space!


Summing It Up

As you can see, Durham is an ancient city, a place filled to overflowing with fascinating facts! However, the city has even more to offer those who live and visit, as well as facts you may not have known before now!

Durham is an amazing city, filled with friendly people, excellent quality of life, and more! So be sure to stop by or come to live; you’ll receive a warm welcome when you do!

If you are looking for office space in Durham – be sure to check out what we have to offer.

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