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Norman Chapel Conservation and Interpretation Project

The Norman Chapel at Durham Castle is the oldest standing building in Durham City. Because of its architectural and historical significance, it is one of the most important spaces in Durham City. This has been recognised by its Grade I Listingas well as its inclusion in the first inscription of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. It attracts visitors, academics and pilgrims from across the world, who are able to research, enjoy and reflect in this impressive space. 

Due to pre-existing environmental conditions, the condition of the Norman Chapel has deteriorated, and it became apparent in early 2013 that additional monitoring and investigation were needed. The University’s Estates and Facilities department have, since 2013, worked with a team of internal and external consultants and experts to research the causes of the damage and develop a project to arrest the decay and consolidate the Chapel’s stonework.  

At the same time, University Library and Collections staff have worked with University College, the Development and Alumni Relations office, and the Estates and Facilities team to develop and seek funding for a project to improve access to, interpretation of, and resources for the Chapel. The aim is to not only preserve this important building, but to enhance the profile and use of the Chapel.  

The current project involves external conservation work; the excavation of a ventilation trench outside the Chapel on the North Terrace of the Castle; and internal conservation of stonework, including the 11th century sculptures to the capitals of the columns.  

Once this essential work has been carried out, our curators will be able to implement improvements to the accessibility, interpretation, lighting and presentation of the Chapel. 

Find out more about the history of Durham Castle through our online exhibition. 


The Norman Chapel.

The Norman Chapel