The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

Last month I spent a weekend in Durham, a picturesque place with a castle, cathedral, winding lanes and medieval walls all perched on top of a dramatic rocky crag. I was able to spend an afternoon exploring the town, and discovered many magical nooks and crannies in the process.

My favourite discovery was undoubtedly the famous sanctuary knocker which can be found on the northern door of Durham’s beautiful Romanesque cathedral. In past centuries those who had committed a crime could rap the knocker, and would then be offered thirty seven days of sanctuary inside the church in which to reconcile with their victims, or even plan an escape.

The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral

Made from brass, the knocker features a wonderfully gothic sun face, its handle decorated with dogs’ (or is it dragons’?) heads. The knocker which can now be seen on the cathedral door is actually a modern replica, as the fragile medieval original is now safely held in the cathedral’s museum, but it is still pretty magical I am sure you will agree.

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5 Responses to “The Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral”

  1. Yes I loved it when I saw it 🙂

  2. What a wonderful relic! I wonder if the ‘eyes’ would originally have held precious stones, or at least been filled in with some ornamentation? I am just looking at sanctuary stones (by coincidence) at a church I came across in West Lothian.

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