Britain's Great Cathedrals with Tony Robinson

Durham Cathedral

Series 1 - Episode 4 Durham Cathedral



If you’ve seen Durham Cathedral in the flesh, as it were, you’ll know photography can’t quite do it justice. It’s partly the setting, on a hill surrounded on three sides by a loop in the River Wear, and partly the whopping scale of the Norman architecture: it was intended to intimidate Anglo-Saxon locals.

It was also a money-making machine, as Tony Robinson explains: pilgrims flocked to the shrine and tomb of St Cuthbert and the local clergy enjoyed the proceeds: a book of accounts reveals that by 1422 the Durham monks were spending £56 a year on wine – the equivalent in today’s money of £40,000.


The actor and presenter visits Durham cathedral, one of Britain's first Unesco World Heritage sites and a leading tourist attraction. The cathedral is over 900 years old and built like a fortress. It is 218ft tall and when first constructed was the country's tallest building. The bishops at Durham were so powerful that they were given the title Prince-Bishop to reflect their huge wealth and influence. As well as exploring the Norman edifice, Tony meets a modern-day treasure hunter who has discovered hidden lost treasures from the cathedral in the River Wear.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Tony Robinson
Director Mark Williams
Executive Producer Jeff Anderson
Producer Mark Williams
Series Producer Graham Cooper
Documentary History