This wonderful, pagan knocker is on the door of Durham Cathedral.
In the Middle Ages, the cathedral could be used as a place of sanctuary by fugitives. If you'd committed a serious offence, you could claim sanctuary by knocking at the door (the knocker is very high). You then had 37 days to organise your affairs, and either stand trial, or leave the country by the nearest port.
I took my reluctant boys to the cathedral yesterday morning as we were passing, and it's very close to the motorway. There's a chapel for the Durham Light Infantry, my grandfather's regiment, and I was glad to be there the day before the anniversary of his death in 1941. He served in the DLI in the first world war; in the second world war he served in the Royal Artillery, so his name is not in the DLI roll of honour in the Cathedral. But it was good during this hectic season to have a quiet moment's reflection about a man I love but never met.
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