Durham is a city in north east England. It is within the County Durham local government district, and is the county town of the larger ceremonial county. It lies to the south of Newcastle upon Tyne, Chester-le-Street and Sunderland and to the north of Darlington. Durham is well known for its Norman cathedral and 11th-century castle, both designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre.The name "Durham" comes from the Old English "dun", meaning hill, and the Old Norse "holme", which translates to island.
The Lord Bishop of Durham takes a Latin variation of the city's name in his official signature, which is signed "N. Dunelm." Some attribute the city's name to the legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid who in legend guided the monks of Lindisfarne carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert to the site of the present city in 995 AD. Dun Cow Lane is said to be one of the first streets in Durham, being directly to the east of Durham Cathedral and taking its name from a depiction of the city's founding etched in masonry on the south side of the cathedral.The city has been known by a number of names throughout history. The original Nordic Dun Holm was changed to Duresme by the Normans and was known in Latin as Dunelm.
The modern form Durham came into use later in the city's history. The north eastern historian, Robert Surtees chronicled the name changes in his History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham but states that it is an "impossibility" to tell when the city's modern name came into being. Archeological evidence suggests a history of settlement in the area since roughly 2000 BC. The present city can clearly be traced back to AD 995, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there.
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