Population: 42,939 (2001)
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference: NZ274424
District: City of Durham
Shire county: Durham
Region: North East England
Country: England
Ceremonial county: Durham
Historic county: Durham
Police force: County Durham
Post office and telephone
Post town: DURHAM
Postal district: DH1
Dialling code: 0191
UK Parliament: City of Durham
European Parliament: North East England

Durham (IPA: [ˈdʊɹəm] locally, [ˈdʌɹəm] in RP) is a small city and main settlement of the City of Durham district of County Durham in North East England. It is well known for its Norman Cathedral and Castle, and is home to Durham University. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of County Durham at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 4,063 47 1,755 2,261
2000 4,783 40 1,840 2,904
2003 5,314 39 1,978 3,297

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding


Durham Castle and Cathedral
Durham Castle and Cathedral
Durham Market Place
Durham Market Place
The Viaduct
The Viaduct

Durham is situated 13 miles (21 km) to the south west of Sunderland, in North East England. The River Wear flows north through the city, enclosing the centre on three sides to create Durham's "peninsula". Durham is a hilly city, claiming to be built upon the symbolic seven hills. Upon the most central and prominent position high above the Wear, the cathedral dominates the skyline. The steep riverbanks are densely wooded, adding to the picturesque beauty of the city. West of the city centre, another river, the River Browney, drains south to join the Wear to the south of the city.

Durham won the Large Town award in the Britain in Bloom awards of 2005.

The county town of County Durham, Durham is located in the City of Durham local government district, which extends beyond the city, and has a total population of 87,656, and covers 186.68 square kilometres. The unparished area of Durham had a population of 29,091, whilst the built-up area of Durham had a population of 42,939.

Durham's MP is Roberta Blackman-Woods (Labour).


Durham railway station is situated on the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and London; rail travellers coming from the south enter Durham over a spectacular Victorian viaduct high above the city. By road, the A1(M), the modern incarnation of the ancient Great North Road, passes just to the east of the city. (Its previous incarnation, now numbered A167, passes just to the west.) Durham has an airport, in name, the Durham Tees Valley Airport - but this is actually far closer to Darlington. The Market Place and peninsula form the UK's first (albeit small) congestion charging area, introduced in 2002.

Districts of Durham

The centre of Durham sits on a peninsula created by the River Wear. At the base of the peninsula is the market square, which still hosts regular markets; a permanent indoor market is also situated on the square. The square and surrounding streets are one of the main commercial and shopping areas of the city. From the market square, The Bailey leads south past Palace Green: The Bailey is almost entirely owned and occupied by the University and Cathedral.

There are three old road bridges leading onto the peninsula, now all pedestrianised. Prebends Bridge is at the Southern tip of the Bailey. Heading east from the square, Elvet Bridge leads to the Elvet area of the city. Heading west, Milburngate Bridge leads to the Milburngate district, Crossgate and North Road, the other main shopping area of the city. West of here is an area colloquially known as "The Viaduct" after the structure which dominates, now largely student-populated. Beyond The Viaduct lies the outlying districts of Framwellgate Moor and Neville's Cross. Heading north from the market place leads to Claypath. The road curves back round to the East and beyond it lies Gilesgate and Gilesgate Moor.


A map of the city from 1610
A map of the city from 1610

Archeological evidence suggests a history of settlement at Durham since roughly 2000 BC. The present city can clearly be traced back to 995 AD, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there. The present Durham Cathedral was built from 1093, and still contains the remains of St Cuthbert as well as The Venerable Bede. It is regarded by many - such as travel writer Bill Bryson - as the finest cathedral in the world.

Facing the cathedral across Palace Green is Durham Castle, originally built by the Normans from 1071, on William the Conqueror's return from campaigning in Scotland. Some of the present structure is more recent, notably Anthony Salvin's Victorian restorations. The two buildings are jointly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site- one of the original nine in Britain. Since 1837 the castle has been home to University College, the first college of the University.

In the three centuries following the construction of the Castle, Durham was regularly besieged by the Scots, with the notable Battle of Neville's Cross (1346) occurring just one mile west of the city.

Durham's traditional flag
Durham's traditional flag

In medieval times Durham was a major centre of both political and ecclesiastical power, mainly due to its strategic importance near the border with Scotland. County Durham was a palatinate, ruled by Prince-Bishops who had secular authority and considerable autonomy from Westminster, minting their own coinage, dispensing their own justice and with the right to maintain their own armies. Every Bishop of Durham from 1071 to 1836 was a Prince Bishop except for the first Norman-appointed bishop Walcher, who was an Earl-Bishop. (The term Prince Bishop, while a useful one, is not one which the Durham Bishops themselves would have recognised.) Henry VIII curtailed some of the Prince-Bishop's powers, and smashed the shrine of Cuthbert in 1538. Finally, the public climate surrounding the Great Reform Act of 1832 removed the Bishop's extraordinary powers.

In 1832 the University of Durham was founded, which has several buildings on the peninsula and on Elvet Hill on the other side of the river. The 19th century also saw Durham grow as a centre of the coal mining industry. The first Durham Miners' Gala was held in 1871, and remains a popular annual event.

The municipal borough was known as 'Durham and Framwelgate', until it was merged with Durham Rural District and Brandon and Byshottles urban district to form the City of Durham district.

Famous residents

Town twinning

Sister Cities


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