The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about Durham, England. For other places called Durham, see Durham (disambiguation).
OS Grid Reference:
Population: 87,712 (Distict, 2001 Census)
Dwellings: 34,846 (District, 2001 Census)
Formal status: City
County: County Durham
Region: North East
Nation: England
Post Office and Telephone
Post town: DURHAM
Postcode: DH1
Dialling Code: 0191

Durham (IPA: ) is a small city in the north east of England. The county town of County Durham, it is well known for its Norman Cathedral and Castle, and is home to the University of Durham, England's third oldest.



Durham is situated 25 km (15 miles) to the south of Newcastle upon Tyne, in North East England. The River Wear flows through the city, enclosing the centre on three sides to create Durham's "peninsula". Durham is a hilly city, and the cathedral, in its prominent position high above the Wear, dominates the skyline. The steep riverbanks are densely wooded, adding to the picturesque beauty of the city.

The county town of County Durham, Durham is located in the City of Durham local government district, which extends beyond the city, and has a total population of 87,656, and covers 18,668 hectares. Durham's MP is Gerry Steinberg (Labour).


Durham is situated on the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and London; rail travellers coming from the south enter Durham over a spectacular Victorian viaduct high above the city. By road, the A1(M), the modern incarnation of the ancient Great North Road, passes just to the east of the city. Durham has an airport, in name, the Durham Tees Valley Airport - but this is actually far closer to Darlington.

Districts of Durham


Archeological evidences suggests a history of settlement at Durham since roughly 2000BC. The present city can clearly be traced back to 995AD, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, founding a church there. The present Durham Cathedral was built from 1093, and still contains the remains of St Cuthbert as well as The Venerable Bede. It is regarded by many as the finest cathedral in the country.

Facing the cathedral across Palace Green is Durham Castle, originally built by the Normans from 1097, though most of the present structure is more recent. The two buildings are jointly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 1837 the castle has been home to University College, the first college of the University.

In the three centuries following the construction of the Castle, Durham was regularly besieged by the Scots, with the notable Battle of Neville's Cross (1346) occuring just one mile west of the city.

In mediaeval times Durham was a major centre of both political and ecclesiastical power, mainly due to its strategic importance near the border with Scotland. County Durham was a palatinate, ruled by Prince-Bishops who had secular authority and considerable autonomy from Westminster, minting their own coinage and maintaining their own armies. Every Bishop of Durham from 1071 to 1836 was a Prince Bishop except for the first Norman-appointed bishop Walcher, who was an Earl-Bishop. Henry VIII curtailed some of the Prince-Bishop's powers, and smashed the shrine of Cuthbert in 1538.

In 1832 the prestigious University of Durham was founded, which has several colleges on the peninsula and on Elvet Hill on the other side of the river. The 19th century also saw Durham grow as a century of the coal mining industry. The first Durham Miners' Gala was held in 1871, and remains a popular annual event.

See also

External links

Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46