The County Palatine. Whilst we know that Durham is the Land of the Prince Bishops what is the County Palatine? One and the same. The County Palatine is the area that was controlled by the Bishops of Durham and was the area between the Rivers Tyne and Tees and as it is to this day. The name comes from the German. A Palatine Region came under the control of a Count. English after all is Anglo Saxon with additional contributions from much of Continental Europe, and latterly from right around the world, not to mention Silicon Valley.
Durham City has its roots very deep in the history of the British Isles. Much of Britain was invaded by people who carried the beginnings of the English language with them. The old English word for hill was ‘dun’, and the old Norse for island was ‘holme’ with the passage of time and Anglicisation the present name was born.
In medieval times there were troubled periods during which the Scots, who owned much of the land around the Land of the Prince Bishops, would come to blows with the English. During that time the Prince Bishops held the right of excommunication, a mighty blow at the heart of Scots, they were later pardoned by the Pope. Scots falling out with their closest neighbours? Nothing in life is really new is it?
Durham City was originally settled by monks based at the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, back in c 995AD. They chose high ground close to running water. They carried with them the mortal remains of Saint Cuthbert. To this day the Shrine of Saint Cuthbert is a feature in Durham Cathedral that is dedicated to his memory. The Shrine of Saint Cuthbert is truly worth visiting for visitors and locals alike.
The well-known American writer Bill Bryson who lived in Britain for many years, and was until 2011 Chancellor of The University of Durham, called Durham ‘a perfect little city’, small it may be compared with many, but perfectly formed. The City of Durham has generated many of the most famous ‘names’ of the modern day. Along with the County, Durham is in the premier league of work creation, industrial transformation, innovation and sheer Northern grit. A City that has been around for a thousand years has seen invasions by Norsemen and Romans has experienced it all before giving us a unique experience and capacity from which to draw. More recently, we are enriched by visiting students from across the Globe who have gone home carrying with them a little of why Durham and Britain as a whole is such a Great place to live and work. Durham City is firmly on the World map. The name of Durham is quite unique around the World as is its reputation for character formed over the ages.
Small but perfectly formed, that is Durham to a ‘t’.