Romanesque art is the art from Europe from around 1000 AD to the start of the Gothic style in the 13th Century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Romanesque means "descended from Roman." Romanesque architecture is characterized by semi-circular arches, massive size, thick walls, large arches and decorative arcading. The buildings of the Romanesque period have very clearly defined forms and they are often very symmetrical and appear very simple on the outside. During this period a vast amount of churches were built. Many of these churches remain in use today.
Durham Cathedral is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St. Cuthbert of Durham is normally known as Durham Cathedral. The word cathedral comes from the Latin cathedra, which means chair. This is because cathedrals are churches that hold the chair of the Bishops. The Cathedral was built as a place of worship, specifically to house the shrine of St. Cuthbert; it was also the home to a Benedictine monastic community. The Cathedral also served a political and military function by reinforcing the authority of the prince-Bishops over the northern border of England. Durham Cathedral is an Anglican Cathedral. It is the seat of the Bishop of Durham. It is built on the high ground above the River Wear. The present cathedral was founded in 1093 AD and is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the world. Durham Cathedral contains the shrine of St. Cuthbert and was and still is a place of pilgrimage.
The building of huge cathedrals in the Middle Ages was seen as a reflection of faith. Churches started to give out indulgences - forgiveness of sins to people who helped to build the cathedrals, so often instead of going on crusades people became dedicated to building cathedrals and churches. Durham Cathedral was designed and built under the direction of William of St.