Archiver > CUMBERLAND > 2002-05 > 1020279213

From: "Sarah Reveley" <>
Subject: [CUL] More on the knocker at Durham
Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 13:53:33 -0500

Dear Sarah

Further to the reply from Durham Cathedral.
I attach the actual words of the entry in the Monastic records of your
ancestor seeking sanctuary. As you will see from my rough translation he
did NOT ring the bell. Before 1503 after the fugitive was admitted to
the Church he was required to ring a penitential bell but this ceased in
1503. Your ancestor would have used the knocker. There were always two
people keeping watch for those who sought sanctuary. Then a bell was
rung to warn the people of Durham that a fugitive had come to the
Cathedral/Monastery. The doors were opened and he was taken to a
particular spot. he was allowed to stay for up to 37 days. There is no
record of how long Archibald stayed. With very few exceptions, those
who sought sanctuary and confessed their sins at Cuthbert's shrine swore
to abjure the realm for ever. They wer passed from constable to
constable until they reached the port (usually) Hartlepool and they had
to take the first ship leaving and never return. we do know that a few
jumped ship but we do not know where the rest ended up.

As to the Sanctuary knocker no-one knows how the hole came into being.
As far as we know it is not a bullet hole - but we just do not know how
it was caused. The knocker is Norman and is the largest piece of cast
bronze from that period. We now have a replica on the door and the
original is in the Treasures of St Cuthbert Exhibition.

I hope that all this is of interest to you. I am not sure what you mean
by the story of the Farne Devils. The only historic reference is to the
fact that Cuthbert was a hermit on the Farnes and that he fought for
good over evil. See Bede's life of Cuthbert.

Best wishes

Lilian Groves Senior Guide


Ad Ecclesiam Cath. Dunelm., iiij Augusti, MDXVII, venit quidam Archebaldus Reveley, de Fowbery, in Com. Nothumbriæ, et peciit immunitatem, pro eo quod præsens fuit quando quidam Laurentius Beill, Georgius Reveley, Johannes Reveley et Willielmus reveley, quosdam Thomam Reveley et Thomam Boynde, apud Waunden infra territorium de Fowbery, interfecerunt, in die S. Jacobi, viz xxv Julii, MDXVII, pro quâ feloniâ - et ope ac auxilio per eundem Archebaldum dictis homicidis facto - ommunitatem peciit. Præsentibus Henrico Kelynghall, Lionello Elmesden et Radulfo Byllingham, generosis.

Roughly translated On August 4th 1517 Archibald Reveley came to the Cathedral Church of Durham and earnestly sought sanctuary because he was present when .... slew Thomas Reveley and Thomas Boynde. on the day of St James viz 25th July 1517 for which felony and the aid and help through the same Archibald Reveley to the same he begs immunity. The people names as being present were all gentlemen of Durham who acted as witnesses.

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