Further Information about The Durham Cathedral Stone Auction


 The story of Durham Cathedral

In AD 995 a group of monks arrived in Durham having fled Lindisfarne seeking refuge for themselves and the remains and relics of St Cuthbert. Once settled they built a church on the peninsula to act as a permanent shrine to his memory. In AD 1093, following the Norman conquest of England, Bishop William of St Calais began construction of a grander monument to replace this church which would become the Cathedral we know and love today.

Durham Cathedral has watched over the county for over 900 years, undergoing many renovations and extensions throughout its long life. In AD 1986 it received UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is celebrated across the world for its Norman and Gothic architecture. The Cathedral along with its staff, volunteers, Friends, Patrons and Corporate Sponsors have proudly served the local community for generations and look forward to continuing that good work for many years to come.

The Foundation 2020 Stone Auction

The stones up for auction have a rich history. From the beginning of their journey in 1858, when the stones were brought from Prudham Quarry to replace the Roman Cement the tower was originally built with, to their removal in 2016-2018, these stones have been keeping watch over our historic city. Their journey doesn’t end today; their journey continues, with you.

The proceeds of this auction will go towards the Cathedral’s Foundation 2020 campaign. This seeks to help build an endowment fund that will finance the day-to-day maintenance and repair of the Cathedral for generations to come. This fund will generate enough interest every year to pay for all of the work. Every £1 raised will be matched by the National Lottery Heritage Fund making your money go further.

Stone Classification

Cuthbert Stones

The Cuthbert Stones are typically the largest and most well conserved stones; the level of tracery detail carved into the blocks is astoundingly beautiful. In addition to this, many of the stones sat high on the Cathedral’s Central Tower, surveying County Durham in all its ever-changing glory for over 150 years. 

Bede Stones

The Bede Stones tend to be slightly smaller than the Cuthbert Stones. Despite their size, however they remain to be some of the most desirable stones we have to offer. During the removal process they retained their original shape and structure, and with it, their ornately carved detail.

Oswald Stones

The Oswald Stones are a collection of larger stones with minimal detail, and smaller stones with extraordinary detail. All of the Oswald Stones have had to be cut during the process of removal during the renovation of the Central Tower, however there are some truly magnificently designed stones with very rich history in this classification.

Gregory Stones

The Gregory Stones all show very clearly the effects of 150 years-worth of weather changes, due to their nature as primarily structural or protective stones. The stones vary in traditional aestheticism, although faint detail peeking through the evident corrosion on the surface of the stone can be seen.

Margaret Stones

The Margaret Stones are stones with more basic structures, little detail and were removed from high points of the Cathedral’s Central Tower during the renovation. There are some stones in this classification that were cut and carved to be put on the tower, but were not needed and therefore not never taken up. This information will be highlighted in the relevant stone’s biography.

Hild Stones

The Hild Stones are stones which all came from high points on the Tower. These stones are typically Coping Stones which have been cut into smaller pieces to form sets of 2, 3, and 4. There is some defined shape to the stone which has survived, despite its position on the tower for the duration of 150 years.

Aidan Stones

The Aidan Stones are the smallest stones that we have up for Auction, it should be noted, however that some of the stones have exquisite decoration. The Mullion stones that are classified as Aidan Stones have retained their shape and structure and are carved with a sharp cross decoration.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact there were two phases of the restoration work. Most of the stones up for auctions were removed from the tower during the first phase 1 and a smaller number during the second phase. Also up for auction are a number of bonus stones removed from other locations around the Cathedral. Information about where specific stones came from can be found in the lot descriptions as well as in the diagrams within the catalogue.

Catalogue glossary

Apex stone: The top stone within an archway that sits under the arch’s cornerstone, usually to complete tracery.

Ashlar stone: A common type of stone used in masonry; recognisable by its square or rectangular shape, they can be used in a variety of ways.

Central stone: The central stone within a tracery window or arch where other tracery stones meet.

Coping stone: Used to cap or crown the top of walls, in this case the Tower’s parapet.

Cornice stone: A horizontal stone used to decorate the top of a structure that has the function of directing rain water away from the walls below.

Course stone:  These make up the three horizontal levels of the parapet’s walls. The foundation level is the Stooling course, the middle level is the Lower course and the top level is the Upper course.

Crenel: This is the term used to describe the drops in the parapet’s turret design. There are four visible crenels visible on each side of the tower and a further two hidden out of sight at each end by the corners.

Crocket: These are elaborately carved hook shaped stones that decorate the whole of the Cathedral.

Jamb stone: These stones make up the sides of the tracery that sit inside an archway.

Merlon: This is the term used to describe the raises in the parapet’s turret design. There are three merlons clearly visible from each side of the Cathedral with a further two joined together at each end of each wall.

Mullion stone: A mullion is a pillar structure that sits between the different courses on the parapet.

Parapet: This is the term used to describe the walls crowning the tower both decorating the top of the Cathedral and acting as a protective barrier for those on the viewing platform.

Pinnacle shaft: At each end of each face of the parapet is a standalone pillar. This is the Pinnacle shaft.

Quatrefoil: This is the name given to the ornamental tracery design found on many of the stones. It is made up of four points that end up resembling a flower or clover leaf.

Return stone: This simply means the stone is carved to turn part way at a right angle rather than remaining as a straight block.

Springer stone: These stones sit where an arch begins to curve in, to support the large tracery design above it.

Tracery Blind: This describes stone carving in an arch that you cannot see through.

Tracery Open: This describes stone carving in an arch or window that you can see through.



Pre-Registration, Payment, Collection and Delivery of Stones


To participate and bid in the auction you will need to register. This is a simple process that you can do at https://www.andersonandgarland.com (go to My Account and then register) and will require a credit/debit card to verify your address - please note that the card details are not stored. Once your registration has been verified you can leave an absentee commission bid, bid-live or attend the auction and bid in person (please come on the day to the registration desk on the cloister to collect a paddle number).

All purchases must be paid for within 3 working days of the auction. Please note on sale day you can make payment at Chapter House, Durham Cathedral by cash or by credit/ debit card, Please note after sale day you cannot make payment at Chapter House, Durham Cathedral but you can at  Anderson & Garland at Anderson House, Crispin Court, Westerhope, NE5 1BF.  You can also make payment at anytime  on-line at www.andersonandgarland.com or by bank transfer (details at the bottom of your invoice). 

Collection and Delivery

Successful bidders are responsible for the collection and delivery of any and all stones won at the Auction.

Smaller lots can be collected from the Cathedral immediately after the auction through to the 25th October. Please contact our Development Assistant, Olivia Willmore, on 0191 374 4055 to arrange a suitable collection time with our Works Yard.

The larger stones, along with any remaining smaller lots, will be removed from the Cathedral by Corner’s Transport to their warehouse in Barnard Castle, DL2 3PX on the 28th October. Successful bidders will then be able to arrange collection or delivery of their stones from 4th November from this location.

Corner’s Transport can provide a quote for transporting your stone anywhere within the UK. Alternatively you can arrange to collect your stone in person or use another transport service to collect your stone from their warehouse. To get a quote from Corner’s Transport or arrange a collection time please contact Stephen Corner on 0183 362 7252.

Please note that if your stone has not been collected by 18th November you will be charged £3 a day for storage and Corner’s will not release your stone until this has been paid. If you have any questions please contact Corner’s Transport.