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Plough Sunday

Sunday 13 January at 1:00 PM

Relive the revival of a traditional English festival in Durham City. Enjoy music, Morris dancing and sword dancing in the marketplace, and follow the plough as it is processed up to the Cathedral at around 2pm, where it will be blessed by the Dean of Durham, the Very Rev. Andrew Tremlett.

Plough Sunday celebrates the start of the agricultural year, and the oldest recorded mention of this festival is from Durham in 1413. Plough Sunday celebrations historically involved the drawing of a plough around the community to mark the start of the agricultural year. Feasts were held, and those dragging the plough performed songs, dances and plays along their route. Plough Sunday gained a riotous, carnival atmosphere as it marked the return to work for agricultural workers, but died out after the nineteenth century.

This custom has been revived in recent years. Durham is proud to have the oldest recorded mention of the celebration of Plough Sunday in England: in 1413 an official from Durham Priory presented four pence to the group drawing the plough. After blessing the plough, the Dean of Durham will present the 'plough stots' drawing the plough with a leather bag containing four commemorative coins, referencing Durham Priory's Plough Sunday gift 606 years ago.