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The Treasures of St Cuthbert are some of the most significant surviving Anglo-Saxon artefacts in the UK.

An outstanding collection

The Treasures of St Cuthbert have been a focus for prayer and veneration by Christians for centuries. They include:

  • St Cuthbert's original 7th century wooden coffin
  • His gold and garnet pectoral cross
  • The portable altar and ivory comb placed in his coffin when he was buried
  • Embroidered Anglo-Saxon vestments gifted to his Shrine

Who was St Cuthbert?

St Cuthbert is the North of England's best-loved saint. His community fled Lindsifarne following the Viking invasion in 793. They travelled around the North of England with his body and extraordinary relics for years. They finally settled in Durham in 995.

How has the coffin survived?

The late 7th-century wooden coffin has been carefully preserved by the religious communities of Lindisfarne, Chester-le-Street and Durham.

Where are the textiles from?

Textiles include the stole and maniple offered in honour of St Cuthbert by King Athelstan in 934 when the shrine was at Chester-le-Street.

Take a look online

More information about St Cuthbert’s relics can be found in our online catalogue ADLIB

 

A stunning setting

The treasures are displayed in the 14th century Great Kitchen, one of only two surviving medieval monastic kitchens of this type in England.

It is octagonal with a high rib-vaulting ceiling, its huge scale reflecting the size of the community living in the Cathedral when it was built. The space was used as a kitchen until the mid-1940s.

The Conyers falchion displayed in Open Treasure

The Conyers Falchion

Legend has it that this is the sword with which Sir John Conyers slew the terrible Sockburn Worm, or dragon. The legend lives on in Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky.

The sword is a 13th Century falchion with the arms of the Holy Roman Empire on one side of its pommel and the arms of England on the other. It is speculated that it belonged to Richard Earl of Cornwall, who was Henry III’s younger brother and became King of Germany and King of the Romans from 1257 to 1272.

The falchion symbolises Durham’s commitment to its faith. It is presented to a new bishop of Durham when he first crosses the Tees from the south into his new diocese. A replica is now used in this ceremony.

More about Lewis Carroll and the Sockburn Worm

Original Santuary Knocker

The Sanctuary Knocker

In medieval times, those who “had committed a great offence”, such as murder in self-defence, could grasp this and be given 37 days of sanctuary within the Cathedral. If they couldn't come to an agreement with their accuser they would face trial or have to leave the country.

This is the original made around 1155. A replica now hangs on the North Door. The design is based on an Anglo-Saxon version of 'hell-mouth', as in the entrance to hell. If you look closely, you can make out a man being eaten by a lion, which is being eaten by a double-headed snake. It was meant to be hideous enough to ward off evil spirits.

Visit St Cuthbert

Don't forget to visit the Shrine of St Cuthbert in the main Cathedral before you leave. You can light a candle if you wish.

Where next?

Can you find the right door to the Pilgrimage Gallery? The octagonal architecture can make it a challenge!

School child using interactive touchscreen in Open Treasure

Book Open Treasure tickets online

Some time slots can get very busy. Why not pre-book your tickets using our online Open Treasure ticketing option?

Book Open Treasure tickets online