Palace Green Library

Image of the entrance to Palace Green Library, with Durham Cathedral in the background
Guided tours icon Library icon Study area icon Hearing disability facilities icon Visual disability facilities icon

Founded in 1833 and occupying listed buildings within the Durham World Heritage site, the Palace Green Library of Durham University houses archives, early printed books and other special collections.

The Wolfson Gallery
Located on the first floor of Palace Green Library, the Gallery opened in 2011 after undergoing a £2.3m refurbishment, funded in part by a £500,000 donation from the Wolfson Foundation. The Wolfson Gallery is designed to safely exhibit our collections to the highest standards of conservation.

The Dennyson Stoddart and History of the Book Galleries
These galleries are located on the ground floor of Palace Green Library. The opening of the Dennyson Stoddart Gallery in the Summer of 2012 was a milestone in the University’s £10 million development project at Palace Green Library. It was in the History of the Book Gallery that the Lindisfarne Gospels and St Cuthbert's Bible - the earliest surviving European book complete with its original binding - were displayed in an award-winning exhibition visited by more than 100,000 people in Summer 2013.

There are: Over 70,000 books printed before 1850 including 300 incunables; over 100 Medieval manuscripts; 3,400 metres of archives and artefacts; over 30,000 maps and prints and 100,000 photographs. We are open to anyone needing to consult our collections. New users will be required to fill out a short registration form.

Two of the University Library's special collections, the Bishop Cosin's Library and the Sudan Archive, were awarded Designated Collection of national importance status in 2005 in the first round of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Designation Scheme.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive, Museum, Gallery, Heritage site, Castle or defences

Opening hours

Museum of Archaeology (Term and Vacation)
Monday 12.00-17.00
Tuesday-Sunday 10.00-17.00

Galleries (including DLI collection gallery)
10.00-17.00 daily (last entry 16.30)

Admission charges

Admission charges vary for temporary exhibitions. Please visit the website for up-to-date information.

Admission to the Museum of Archaeology and The DLI Collection Gallery is FREE entry.

Durham Castle Tours:
Adults £5.00
Concessions/children £4.00
Children (5yrs and under) - FREE
Family ticket £15.00
Durham University campus card holders FREE


  • Museums Association

Additional info

Wheelchair access to all public areas ,though subject to disruption from ongoing building work. Please check Library website: or call 191 334 2932 on the day you intend to visit.

The Bishop Cosin's Library and the Sudan Archive are Designated Collections of oustanding national and international importance.

The Bishop Cosin’s Library is still housed in its original building and, as an integral element of the World Heritage Site, has significance for the history of libraries and for ecclesiastical history both locally and nationally.

The Sudan Archive is indispensable to the study of the Sudan in the period of British administration. It is significant to British national life through its illustration of the impact of the colonial power on the country at many levels of administration.

The Special Collections at Palace Green Library also hold many other important national and regional collections, including:

Durham Diocesian Records
Durham Cathedral Muniments
Local Records, Maps, Plans and Photographs
Manorial Records
Earl Grey Family Papers
Antiquarian Papers
Literary Papers
Durham University Records

Collection details

World Cultures, Social History, Religion, Literature, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Designated Collection
  • Sudan
  • Cosin
  • County Durham
  • Bishop
  • Cathedral
  • Dean and Chapter
  • Earl Grey
  • University
  • Archives
  • Books
  • Manuscript
  • Printed
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Photo of skeletal remains

Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret

  • 9 June — 7 October 2018 *on now

The story of the Scottish soldiers whose remains were discovered in two mass burial sites in Durham city centre in 2013, will be told in a new exhibition opening this summer.

The exhibition, entitled Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret, shows how the latest scientific techniques have revealed the soldiers’ story – how they lived, why they died, and what became of those who survived.

Their skeletons were discovered during excavations in Durham in November 2013 and, for the first time, visitors to Durham University’s Palace Green Library will come face to face with a 3D reconstruction of the face of one of these men, who lived and died more than 300 years ago.

Julie Biddlecombe-Brown, Curator at Palace Green Library, said: “This is the first opportunity visitors to the museum will have to come face to face with this young man who we now know was aged between 18 and 25 when he died here in Durham.”

The exhibition shows how a multi-disciplinary team at Durham University pieced together evidence to establish details about the identities, lives and appearance of the soldiers, who were imprisoned and died in Durham following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.

Julie added: “These were real men who lost their lives and their place in history and, through this exhibition, we want to tell their story and give them back their voices.”

Professor Chris Gerrard, of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, said: “The remains of up to 28 individuals were excavated in 2013.

“It was the start of many months of research which led to us identifying them as Scottish soldiers who were captured by Cromwell’s army after the Battle of Dunbar and imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle.

“This put an end to almost 400 years of mystery surrounding what became of those soldiers who died here in Durham.”

The exhibition explains how archaeologists from Durham University used analysis of the remains alongside study of historical documents from the period to establish details about the soldiers’ lives including where they were born, what their health and diets were like and why they died.

The exhibition also examines what life was like for soldiers and civilians during the civil wars in the 1600s. The stories of survivors of the battle are also unearthed, including those who were sent to the USA to work as indentured servants, many of whom have descendants alive today.

The exhibition includes a 3D depiction of the face of one of the soldiers, created by researchers at Face Lab, part of Liverpool John Moores University, using one of the excavated skulls along with evidence provided by the Durham University archaeology team. Face Lab specialises in the reconstruction of faces for archaeological and forensic purposes.

Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret will be on show at Durham University’s Palace Green Library from 9 June to 7 October 2018.

A series of talks and events will complement the exhibition, including a touring play called Woven Bones, produced by Cap-a-Pie theatre company in partnership with Durham University. Full details are available at

An admission charge of £7.50, or £6.50 for concessions, applies, which allows two additional visits. Discounted rates are available for groups of nine or more.

This project has been supported by Arts Council England the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Intimation Creative Limited, North East England Chamber of Commerce, Scots' Charitable Society, Sir James Knott Trust and Turner & Townsend Limited.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Ticket prices:

Adults: £7.50

Children (over 5) and concessions: £6.50

Infants (under 5; up to 2 per full paying adult): Free

Family ticket (2 paying adults and 2 children): £25

Groups of 9 or more: £6.50 per person

Your ticket allows for a further two free visits to the exhibition. Tickets are available on the door.


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Family Records Guide

This site contains links to our resources, guides and projects that are most likely to be useful for those undertaking family history and also local history research, or wanting to study individuals and families from the archives held by Durham University Library.


  • Durham University Library Special Collections

North East Inheritance

The North East Inheritance project is creating of an online digital image catalogue of over 150,000 wills and related archives from across County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. These will provide an invaluable insight into north-eastern people and communities, their family relationships, trades and lifestyles. The wills date from the 16th Century to the mid-19th Century and many are accompanied by inventories of the goods belonging to the deceased, bonds, accounts, and a variety of associated documents.


  • Durham University Library Special Collections

Remembering Slavery

A schools workshop that challenges students to think about the transatlantic slave trade and the impact that it has had. The session is based on printed, manuscript and pictoral sources from our collections but also makes use of our slavery-related handling collection and life-sized print of the slave ship Brookes. The session can take place at our Library or in school and can be adapted to suit any Key Stage.


  • Durham University Museums and Special Collections

How to obtain

Information about the session and supporting resources can be found on our website. Please contact for further information.

Remembering Slavery

A collection of online resources which use printed and manuscript material to look at the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Included are a series of e-learning resources which are ready for use in the classroom; an online exhibition focusing on various aspects of the slave trade; and a number of resources designed for use on interactive whiteboards.


  • Durham University Museums and Special Collecions


  • Durham University Library

Victorian Durham

An online resource looking at aspects of Victorian life with particular reference to Durham. It is accompanied by a specially designed walking trail for schools which takes pupils on a tour around the World Heritage Site on a quest for clues about the city's Victorian past.


  • Durham University Museums and Special Collections in collaboration with students on the MA Museum and Artefact Studies course


  • Durham University Library

Palace Green Library
Durham University Library
Palace Green




0191 334 2932


0191 334 2942

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.