THE final part of a £10million heritage project to will be complete today when the treasures of one of the North-East’s best loved saints go on permanent display at Durham Cathedral.

Some of the cathedral’s most precious objects, including the Anglo-Saxon coffin of St Cuthbert, his famous pectoral cross and the original Sanctuary Knocker are going on permanent display.

The exhibition is the final part of the heritage lottery funded Open Treasure project, which tells the story of Christianity in the North-East and is also aimed at raising money to ensure the rest of the 900-year-old building remains free to enter.

Loading article content

Open Treasure opened last summer but the items on display from today are so delicate that conservators have had to monitor climate conditions in the great kitchen, where they will be housed, for 12 months to ensure the precious objects will not be damaged.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, said: “The launch of the Treasures of St Cuthbert on permanent display in their new home marks a new phase in the life of Durham Cathedral and its exhibition experience Open Treasure.

“It is very fitting that the final jewel in the crown of Open Treasure is centred on St Cuthbert, in whose honour Durham Cathedral was built.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors from both near and far who come to enjoy and discover more about his remarkable life and the gospel message his treasures represent.”

Among the items to go on display will be the saint’s gold and garnet pectoral cross, the symbol of Durham Cathedral, the conserved coffin of St Cuthbert and the original Sanctuary Knocker, which was removed from the north door to protect it from the elements.

The carved coffin, which was famously carried by monks from Lindisfarne to save it from a Viking invasion, was made in 698 and is one of the most important wooden artefacts to have survived since before the Norman Conquest.

St Cuthbert’s relics were placed in their shrine within the cathedral in 1104 and the coffin remained there until his tomb was opened in 1827.

The exhibition in the great kitchen – one of only two surviving medieval monastic kitchens in the UK – also includes a portable altar, comb and vestments buried with Cuthbert, which he may have used during his lifetime.

The items were previously on display in the west undercroft of the cloister, but have been in storage for six years because the environment was unsuitable.