Decision : 32 COM 8B.90
Revision of Statements of Signifiance and Statements Outstanding Universal Value - Durham Cathedral and Castle (UK)
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,
2. Approves the following Statement of Significance for Durham Cathedral and Castle, United Kingdom:
The property has exceptional architecture demonstrating architectural innovation;
The visual drama of the Cathedral and Castle on the peninsula and the associations of the site with notions of romantic beauty;
The physical expression of the spiritual and secular powers of the medieval Bishops Palatine that the defended complex provides;
The relics and material culture of the three saints buried at the site.
The continuity of use and ownership of the site over the past 1000 years as a place of religious worship, learning and residence;
The site's role as a political statement of Norman power imposed upon a subjugate nation, as one of the country's most powerful symbols of the Norman Conquest of Britain
The importance of the site's archaeological remains, which are directly related to the site's history and continuity of use over the past 1000 years;
The cultural and religious traditions and historical memories associated with the relics of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, and with the continuity of use and ownership of the site over the past millennium.
Criterion (ii): Durham Cathedral is the largest and most perfect monument of 'Norman' style architecture in England. The small castral chapel for its part marks a turning point in the evolution of 11th century Romanesque sculpture.
Criterion (iv): Though some wrongly considered Durham Cathedral to be the first 'Gothic' monument (the relationship between it and the churches built in the Île-de-France region in the 12th century is not obvious), this building, owing to the innovative audacity of its vaulting, constitutes, as do Spire [Speyer] and Cluny, a type of experimental model which was far ahead of its time.
Criterion (vi): Around the relics of Cuthbert and Bede, Durham crystallized the memory of the evangelising of Northumbria and of primitive Benedictine monastic life.
3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties.