The Arrival at Durham

Simeon says that on the return from Ripon the vehicle carrying the coffin could not be moved past Wurdelau on the east of the River Wear.
 
After a fast Eadmer had a vision telling them to go to Dunholme (Durham).
Later a story appeared which said that they had not heard of this place until a girl looking for her cow was told that it was on Dunholme. So they followed her.
Since they had been living at Chester (less than 8 miles away) for 113 years it is not likely that they were unaware of Durham.
 
Bishop Aldun’s daughter was married to Uchtred, Northumbrian Earl of Bamburgh. In 993 the Vikings had finally sacked Bamburgh and Uchtred was probably seeking another base away from the coast.
He organised the clearance and fortification of the plateau at Durham. Men from the Coquet to the Tees were enlisted for the work.
The defences were effective, two Scottish armies were destroyed outside its walls in the next forty years. After the first attack Uhtred had the best looking of the dead beheaded and the heads placed on stakes around the walls of Durham. The women who washed the skulls were given a cow each.
 
Although a temporary wooden church was made, a stone church was built later by the Northumbrians which was called the White Church. It was dedicated on 4th September 998. September 4th became another feast day, the Translation of Saint Cuthbert (or Saint Cuthbert’s Day in Harvest) celebrated in the Middle Ages.
 
Later an Anglo-Saxon cathedral was made. But this was pulled down to allow the construction of the Norman Cathedral which began in 1093 in the presence of the French bishop William of St Calais and the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore. The place where Cuthbert’s coffin had rested in the old cathedral was marked by a pillar in the cloisters of the new.
 
The magnificent new Norman cathedral was designed to accommodate Cuthbert’s shrine. In 1104, the coffin (and the Gospels) were placed in the Cathedral.
 
Pilgrims visited Durham from far and near. They boosted the economy of the city. Cuthbert was probably the premier pilgrimage centre until the murder of Thomas a Becket led to the growth of Canterbury as a centre of Pilgrimage.

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