Durham Castle Gate
Shelfmark: Additional MS 15538
In 1069, William the Conqueror dispatched Robert Cumin and a company of 700 soldiers to Durham. Their orders were to secure the unruly northern borders of his new kingdom. The entire force was massacred. The king devastated the region in retaliation.
To stamp his authority and keep control over the area, William hastily built basic fortifications overlooking the town. He made this stronghold the base for his great bishops: a defence against the Scots and a warning to the rebellious. As the prince bishops grew in power and wealth so their fortress residence grew in status until it became one of the most richly decorated palaces in the country.