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The origins of Durham Cathedral Library lie in the monastic library founded by St Aidan at Lindisfarne in 635 AD.

The UK's most complete in situ medieval monastic library

We have more than 300 manuscripts from the pre-Reformation era.

These include books produced in Anglo-Saxon Northumberland, medieval Italy, and Norman France. Highlights include:

  • flyleaves from a 6th century account of the Book of Maccabees – which was almost certainly known to the Venerable Bede himself
  • the earliest complete edition of Cassiodorus’ commentary on the Psalms dating from the 8th century
  • the beautiful illuminated Romanesque bible of Norman Bishop of Durham Hugh le Puiset
  • copies of the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest
  • the Durham Gospels, the sister-book to the Lindisfarne Gospels

The manuscripts include Bibles, biblical commentaries, key works by the patristic fathers and canon law books. There are also medieval library catalogues and mortuary rolls.

Viewing opportunities

Manuscripts are very fragile. To protect them, they are not on permanent display. However, we do feature them in Treasures of Durham Cathedral events and Open Treasure temporary exhibitions.

A virtual online library

Our manuscripts are currently being digitised as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project. You can take a look at the books digitised so far.

Information for academic researchers

Do you need to access a manuscript for academic research? Please take a look at the Cathedral Library page for more details.