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Christophe Schwyter's map of Durham,1595

This engraving is the earliest surviving view of Durham. Reasonably accurate in layout if not in detail, Schwyter’s map of 1595 shows the great sweep of the River Wear crossed by the major bridges of Elvet to the east and Framwellgate to the west. The bridges still incorporate fortified gates where they enter the city walls. St Nicholas’ Church, to the north, forms an integral part of the city’s defences.

The fortifications of the lower peninsula are even more substantial, rising from an encircling wall, past the North Gate, to the castle itself. Within this secured area, the cathedral dominates. Shown here as a south view, its western towers are topped by spires that would be removed in 1658. The penalty paid for Schwyter’s dramatic clarity is the unhappy and imaginary reduction of the monastery buildings south of the cathedral.

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