Day 118: Durham Castle & CathedralJune 13, 2017 in the United Kingdom
Another day, another UNESCO site. Today we got out and on the road early again, heading eastwards to Durham. The castle and cathedral here for a single UNESCO heritage listing, mainly for their age and importance. The castle dates back to the Norman conquest, and was originally the bishop's palace. The bishop here was one of the most powerful in all of England, and was essentially a king in the north as he had powers of law-making, taxation and so on. Essentially as a subservient buffer kingdom against the Scots further north. The cathedral is from the same era, though it's a replacement for earlier buildings which have stood on the site since about the 6th century.
We parked up in a shopping centre carpark and headed into town. Bought ourselves some tickets for a castle tour at 1:15pm (it's now part of the university and quite active as such, so access for non-students is tightly controlled), then set to filming the outside of the cathedral. It's nice, but there was a lot of scaffolding at the top doing repairs or restorations of some sort.
Headed inside to discover no photos or videos are permitted! This really irritates me, since I don't really know why it's not allowed. I get that it's an active place of worship and people praying/reflecting probably don't want a bunch of cameras around, but it just seems silly that your beautiful building can't be shared with the world. Also a bit bummed since their library holds an original copy of Magna Carta, but wasn't on display for a few days because of some work in the room where it's held. Alas.
Did our best to enjoy the rest of it, before heading back down into town for an early lunch. Went to a student pub where we both had a parmo (essentially a parmigiana). These are some sort of delicacy in the north-east! Back up the hill to the castle area where we joined our tour and headed in. Photos permitted in the courtyard this time, but again not inside the buildings. Though I guess there were quite a few students around, so I understand that a bit more.
Although the castle itself dates from the Norman conquest, the main keep that looks spectacular is actually 1700s, as earlier buildings kept falling down! Even the oldest parts are only from the 1300s or so - the Norman parts remaining are just earthworks these days. Basically their original castles were built from wood, and definitely haven't stood the test of time. Still an interesting tour though!
Back to the car where Schnitzel was quite happy to see us - he'd been cooped up in the underground carpark just sleeping for the last few hours. It sounds awful but we think he's much happier in his bed, under his blanket in the car. Rather than being in an unfamiliar room with strange sounds and smells.
Drove back to our hut via Tesco for supplies, then gave Schnitzel a short walk and settled in for some work. Did a couple of videos and some writing, but also caught up on podcasts as I'd fallen chronically behind in listening! Amazing how much leisure time you don't have when you're retired.Read more