Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

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Durham Cathedral

Source A refers to the changes made in Durhamcathedral since the 12th
century. There are certain aspects that have remained the same. The
north doors remain unchanged although they have replaced the real
sanctuary knocker with a replica.

Although the main structure and architecture of the cathedral have not
changed, particular things have, for example in the source it shows
pointed towers. As this is an interpretation of an idea of what it may
have looked like at the time, it isn't based on any real fact so we
don't know if the towers were indeed pointed, they may have been
cones. But the towers now are not as they were in the 12th century;
they are gothic, flat and have battlements. The towers were replaced
after lighting struck the north tower and a fire broke out. They
replaced all of the towers so that the north tower wouldn't look out
of place.

The Romanesque window in the east of the north transept has been
replaced with a large elaborate gothic stained glass window. They
found that the pointed arch supported more weight therefore they could
make it larger and more intricate.

The apse has been replaced by the chapel of the nine altars. The apse
originally contained three apses, but was replaced in the thirteenth
centaury they had become dangerous and were replaced

The Galilee chapel has been added on to the west of the cathedral. It
is a ladies chapel as women were not allowed to mix with men in the
chapel of the nine alters.

In conclusion the sketch of the 12th century cathedral is a good
perception of what it may have looked like then, based on the sketchy
facts provided, although there may be a few things wrong with it, but
on the basis it is very accurate.

Source B relates to the theory that Durham cathedral was built by
cowboy builders. Although it is true that the pillars in the nave are
hollow and filled with builder's rubble, the doorway to the Galilee

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chapel you can find two mason's marks, one a Z with a line thorough it
and the other an arrow pointing downwards.

This implies that the masons took pride in their work, it could also
be some form of quality control; or a way of showing how much work
that they had done and therefore how much they were to be paid.

There is a chevron pillar which has an altered pattern around the back
of the pillar. Instead of the usual zigzag pattern, it continues
downwards round the back of the pillar. This could be a result of too
many of the wrong type of stone, as it was pre-made and assembled on
site, but D. Cruickshank has a theory that it is a pivot through the
important parts of the cathedral and also symbolised Christ. The
pillar is the heart of Christ, the transept is the arms the chapel of
the nine alters the head and the nave downward the legs and feet. If
you get a map of the cathedral and draw a circle from this pillar it
goes through the important parts of the cathedral, such as where the
monks ate, slept and prayed.

But one of the main contradictions to this theory is the plain beauty
of the cathedral, there is amazing detail and stunning masonry
everywhere you look in the cathedral, in the cat masks and the
pillars, surely this is not the work of a bunch of cowboy builders?
When one analyses the whole of the cathedral it is drawn to an exact
plan, for example the pillars in the nave have the exact same height
as circumference, and so if you cut and unfolded it, it would make an
exact square. For many years beforehand masons had been trying to
connect the spiritual world with the material, symbolised by squares
and circles; and there it has been accomplished in those pillars.

The source describes the cathedral 'crashing down' but what is to be
understood is that they were working on something that had never been
attempted before, so it was a trial and error way of things, so they
were bound to get things wrong on a few occasions. Durham cathedral
was one of the first buildings in Western Europe to have a stone roof,
and after 500 years the oldest part of the roof's stone ribbed
vaulting still resides in the north transept, showing no signs of

So in conclusion, the cathedral was not built by cowboy builders as it
is too elaborate and planned for someone to come to this conclusion
without visiting the cathedral and experiencing its beauty and
complexity for themselves.

Source c is a statement many agree with. It states that Durham
Cathedral has been described as a beautiful building by famous
architects and not many can argue with that.

There are many sources of its beauty, anywhere you look in the
cathedral, from the cat masks at the bottoms of the stone ribbed
vaulting, to the pillars in the nave, the breath-taking high altar,
and St Cuthbert's shrine.

This statement can most definitely be classed as true, although some
opinions vary; it is safe to say that Durham Cathedral is a very
beautiful place.

Source D refers to the existence of the Neville chapel. The Neville's
were an important local family and were the first secular burials.

Barely anything remains of the Neville chapel today; there is no
screen, no altar, no per, no low stone wall, and no iron grating or
iron partition.

But there is still evidence of its existence. There are holes where
the iron pegs have been and there was a piece of iron still in the
wall. There is a line of bricks not in pattern with the rest of the
layout of the floor, which could be the foundations of the walls
mentioned. There is also the remnants of the hole in the wall where
items were stored that were required for mass.

Although the shrine is no longer there, there is evidence that it once
was, the chapel did exist.

Source E describes the elaboration and the colourfulness of the
screens, pyres, shrines and the stained glass windows.

From the rites of Durham, we can tell that Durham Cathedral was once a
very bright and vivid place, but not much of its splendour survives
today. In the Galilee chapel there are paintings over the altar in the
second bay on the north side, thought to be of St Cuthbert and St
Oswald. They are faded now but there is evidence that they once would
have been quite vibrant. There is also some evidence of the spandrels
of the arches could have been decorated with crucifixion scenes,
cracked and disintegrating but existent none-the-less.

The shrines today are not bejewelled; the Neville shrines lack of
jewels may be due to desecration by the Scots, but there are slight
bits of evidence that there may have been jewels decorating the
shrines, but the statement may have been an elaboration of the use of

The 'fyne coloured glass' that it refers to can still be seen today in
The Rose and all the other elaborate stained glass windows all over
the cathedral.

I see no reason to disagree with this statement as there is definite
evidence of the existence of intense, stunning colour all around the
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