Skull of the Venerable Bede

22nd July 2022

A cast of the skull of the Venerable Bede, which had long been thought lost, has gone on display in a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral Museum to mark 1,000 years since his remains were first brought to the Cathedral.

See a cast of the Skull of St Bede at Durham Cathedral

The saint, who lived from 672 to 735, was an influential scholar and was also known as the father of English history.

The skull cast is one of three created in 1831 when Bede’s tomb was opened at Durham Cathedral by Reverend James Raine. After passing through several private collections, it was donated to Cambridge University’s Museum of Anatomy in the 1870s and transferred to The Duckworth Laboratory in 1968.

Its uniqueness was recognised in 2015 when the cast was rediscovered by a researcher conducting analyses of the collections at The Duckworth Laboratory. The locations of the other two casts remain unknown.

Now it can be seen as part of the latest Durham Cathedral Museum exhibition, Meet St Bede, to help tell the story of Bede’s life. The exhibition also includes early printed books of Bede’s work and the Bede ring, which was found inside his tomb.

Marie-Therese Mayne, Exhibitions & Collections Officer at Durham Cathedral, said:

“We are delighted to welcome the cast of Bede’s skull to Durham Cathedral Museum. It’s an artefact that not only has a rich history but one that is also surrounded by intrigue and mystery because of its lost years and its missing counterparts. The skull cast is a very interesting addition to the exhibition as we can learn more about the life of a saint so important to the cathedral and the North East. ’

This year marks 1,000 years since Bede’s relics were brought to Durham Cathedral, where they were buried alongside St Cuthbert.

Since 1370, Bede’s relics have remained in a dedicated tomb in the Galilee Chapel, which attracts many pilgrims year on year.

Durham Cathedral Museum
Monday 11 July to Saturday 29 October

Tickets to the museum are available to book online here.