Exploring Durham World Heritage Site!

durham birds eye

Exploring Durham World Heritage Site was the best Culture for Kids Session so far! Excellent turn out and fantastic crafts enjoyed by both children and adults! I wanted to look at Durham castle and cathedral as since Jade was born I have taken her there pretty regularly and she loves it! I also did a placement at Durham Castle as part of my MA International Cultural Heritage Management and during my time there I was able to explore many aspects of the site.

At one end of the room we had our crafty activities and the other we recreated Durham castle and cathedral in cardboard! the children loved these little dens to play in…


cathedral2 play2 play3 play4

And the boys looked so smart in the Norman Knight outfits! I easily created these with grey felt (no hemming for quickness!) and different coloured emblems which i cut from felt and used iron on tape to attach.



Jadey’s favourite part of the cathedral is…. lions!!

Her favourite are the lions found at the base of the pulpit in the Cathedral, so i decided to create lion masks for the children…

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lion masks

We created lion masks with paper plates, cut out the middle and stick curled orange and yellow paper around the edges for a maine. A lolly pop stick was placed at the bottom so the children can hold it up to their faces, secured by sellotape. Two orange cardboard ears were added with yellow middles also secured by sellotape.

IMG_3158Painting activities are always a favourite with the children! This week we were creating family crests similar to the Bishops crests which can be seen around Durham Castle. The story of the Prince Bishops at Durham is an important aspect of the history and culture at Durham World Heritage Site. The castle was home to the Prince Bishops until it was converted into a college for Durham University in 1832. The Castle was commissioned in 1072 by William the Conqueror, which he gave to the newly appointed Prince Bishop in 1075. Over the years, new sections of the castle were added and the Bishop who developed that part of the castle would place a crest on the outside to signify his addition. The children loved this activity so much, some children even did it twice!





I left crest shapes, paint and stickers on the table so the children could freely design their crest.

In 2007, divers found artefacts in the river at Durham World Heritage Site. They included gifts from Pope Paul VI and a commemorative medallion presented for the Queens coronation in 1952. They had been last in the possession of the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury. It is unknown how they come to be in the river however is is believed the Archbishop threw treasures into the river as a ‘gift to the city’. We recreated this by making sensory bottles. I pre-filled plastic bottles and the children topped them up with beads, sequins and glitter. The glitter worked particularly well as it dyed the water as well!





The Rose window is an incredibly beautiful treasure within the cathedral. It shows christ and the twelve apostles in the centre and also the Bishops of Durham, including the first Prince Bishops. The window was originally constructed in the 15th century but was destroyed during the reformation. The window in place now was reconstructed in the 19th century. We made ‘stained glass windows’ using sticky-backed plastic, black card, tissue paper and string.

IMG_3099  I cut a round wheel pattern re resemble the Rose window, and squares of the sticky-backed plastic so the children could peel the back off (with help from their parents) and stick on the black card. Then then could lay the precut strips of paper in any pattern they like over the wheel. When they are finished, the excess plastic can be trimmed off, and the single hole punch in the top and the string threaded through for hanging up at a window to catch the light.


We also made a sensory box with dyed rice, bright colours to resemble the bright colours of the stained glass windows throughout the cathedral…


I thought this would be great for the younger children but it proved popular with all ages! There was a crowd when we ‘veiled’ the sensory rice…


From 1075 the Bishops of Durham were granted special powers and were called Prince Bishops. They had the power to raise an army, mint their own coins and levy taxes as long as they stayed loyal to the King and guarded the Northern Frontier against the Scots. Durham is still known as the ‘land of the Prince Bishops’. We created Bishops hats which the children could decorate with jewels and glitter to signify the power and wealth of the Prince Bishops.


bishops hat

I hope you have enjoyed sharing our crafts and ideas for exploring Durham World Heritage Site! Jade and I had a fantastic time with the group cant wait for next week 🙂

Please let me know if you have any ideas or comments to shared with me, It would be great to hear from you!

Donna x

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