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Rediscovered cast of St Bede’s skull brought to Durham Cathedral Museum after more than 190 years


More than 190 years after it was made, the rediscovered cast of St Bede’s skull has arrived at Durham Cathedral Museum as part of the new exhibition which marks 1000 years since Bede’s remains were brought to Durham Cathedral.


As part of the latest Durham Cathedral Museum exhibition, Meet St Bede, the skull cast has been loaned by The Duckworth Laboratory, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge to help tell the story of Bede’s life.


The skull cast is one of three created in 1831 when Bede’s tomb was opened at Durham Cathedral by Reverend James Raine, although the locations of the other two casts remain unknown. After passing through several private collections, it was donated to Cambridge University’s Museum of Anatomy in the 1870s, and transferred to The Duckworth Laboratory in 1968. Its uniqueness was recognised in 2015, when the cast was rediscovered by a researcher conducting analyses of the collections at The Duckworth Laboratory.


Marie-Therese Mayne, Exhibitions & Collections Officer at Durham Cathedral, says, “We are delighted to welcome the cast of Bede’s skull to Durham Cathedral Museum. It’s an artefact that not only has a rich history but one that is also surrounded by intrigue and mystery because of its lost years and its missing counterparts. The skull cast is a very interesting addition to the exhibition as we can learn more about the life of a saint so important to the cathedral and the North East. ’


The exhibition also includes early printed books of Bede’s work and the Bede ring, which was found inside his tomb.

Marie-Therese continues, “The anniversary of Bede’s relics being brought to Durham is a great opportunity to celebrate his life and the impact his work still has on our lives today. We hope to inspire visitors to explore the exhibition and learn something new about this fascinating Northern Saint. ”


This year marks 1000 years since Bede’s relics were brought to Durham Cathedral, where they were buried alongside St Cuthbert. Since 1370, Bede’s relics have remained in a dedicated tomb in the Galilee Chapel, which attracts many pilgrims year on year.


Tickets to the museum are available to book online at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/museum.