Quick Facts on Durham Castle
Description of Durham Castle
Sights included on the tour are the Great Hall, now used as a college dining hall and venue for wedding receptions; a medieval kitchen, still in use; the 17th-century Black Staircase, with its dramatic slope; and two chapels.
The castle's main chapel, known as Tunstall's Chapel for the bishop who built it, dates from 1540. It is small and was extensively restored after the Civil War. The screen at the back was originally in the cathedral. The stained glass window is modern, thanks to a errant lawnmower that rolled down the steep lawn of the keep and right through the window.
Far more interesting and beautiful is the Norman Chapel, in the basement of the castle. This was added shortly after the castle's foundation in 1072 and probably employed Saxon masons. It is carved of beautiful, swirling sandstone; the pillar capitals are decorated with pre-Christian imagery featuring animals and mythical beasts. Look for the full-figured mermaid in the right aisle.
October 1, 2011
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