Monday, January 19, 2015

Harry Potter Was Here

This past Saturday we took the train into Durham to meet up with one of  Mike's former students who is also the daughter of a former co-worker and friend.  She is over here for a month on business for her company.  We had a wonderful pub lunch and general catch up.  Then it was time to play tourist:  the local cathedral and the local castle were the sites chosen.

Durham Cathedral was built to hold the body of Saint Cuthbert. St. Cuthbert never lived in Durham but ended up there due to Viking raids in AD 875 that forced the monks of Lindisfarne to flee, taking with them the saint's body.  The monks found refuge in Chester until they were again forced to flee in AD995 due to increased Viking incursions.  Local legend says that the monks, with St. Cuthbert's coffin on a cart, came across two milk maids searching for a brown (dun) cow.  Upon reaching a peninsula formed by the River Wear the cart's wheels refused to move.  The monks took this as a sign that here was where St. Cuthbert wanted his shrine to be built.  Once this decision had been made, the wheels of the cart again began to move.  The street leading past the Cathedral's eastern towers is called Dun Cow Lane to honor the legend.

The Cathedral, in addition to housing the coffin of St. Cuthbert also houses relics of St. Oswald and the Venerable Bede making it a popular destination for religious pilgrims of the middle ages. 


Yep.  Look closely and you should be able to recognize some of the locations used in Harry Potter.

 The Castle in Durham is an unusual example of re-purposing of an architectural structure.  The Castle has Norman origins having been built in the 11th century.  However, since 1837 it has been owned and used as part of Durham College.  Today it is the residence of over 100 students attending the college.  These lucky individuals get to eat their meals in the castle's great hall.  The castle is open to the public only through guided tours since this is the home of the students and their privacy needs to be respected.
As expected, competition to live here is high.  Who wouldn't want to be able to say they live in a castle?

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