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Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions: Castle Collections

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Castle Collections

The Durham Castle collection has around 5,000 objects covering nearly 500 years of history. Durham Castle is unique in that it is a living, working museum. The collection is varied and diverse and doesn’t just include fine and decorative art but also a substantial amount of furniture, sculpture, tapestries, silverware, arms and armour and social history objects. Our collections range from objects acquired by the Prince Bishops when they were in residence, to the social history collections acquired by students and staff since the inception of University College in the 1830s.  

Collections include: 

  • Arms and armour, in particular 17th and 18th century material  
  • Tapestries, including 17th century Flemish pieces. The Life of Moses tapestry is one of the most complete examples of its type in Europe and the USA  
  • Silverware, a highlight is a Robert Garrard Candelabrum  
  • Art, mainly local British pieces, notable works include two 17th century grisaille depictions of Durham Castle  
  • Sculpture, a small collection, however a key piece is the terracotta bust of George II by John Rysbrack  
  • Social History, ceramics and furniture mainly associated with the 18th and 19th century history of the college and the local area.   

In addition to the collection, a key resource for research, study and teaching is the castle fabric itself. We have significant architectural features that span the past 1,000 years. The fabric of the building is as much part of the collection as the objects and includes a number of architectural styles from Romanesque to early Gothic Rivival.   

Historical spaces include:  

  • Bishop’s Dining Room  
  • Bishop’s Suite  
  • Black Stairs  
  • Great Hall  
  • Kitchen  
  • Norman Arch  
  • Norman Chapel  
  • Norman Gallery  
  • Octagon Room  
  • Senior Common Room  

If you would like to find out more about the collection, visit   


A 17th century painting, which is part of the Durh

A close up photograph of the arch on the Norman Ar