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The thorn tree and Dun Cow at Durham

The thorn tree and Dun Cow at Durham

Artist: Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1773

Shelfmark: Additional MS 15538

Item number: f.137

Length: 26.5

Width: 18

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

This view in ink shows a relief of the legendary Dun Cow, above a thorn tree on the exterior wall of Durham cathedral. The legend of the Dun Cow comes from the ninth century, when the followers of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne were looking for a place to deposit his relics and establish a new church. An angel appeared to one of the monks in a dream and told him to seek Dun Holm. They searched for decades before overhearing two milkmaids talking about an escaped cow. One of the milkmaids said that she had seen it moving in the direction of Dun Holm. The monks followed the milkmaids to a place by the river and there founded the city of Durham and later Durham cathedral.

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