The Durham Cow website was founded by me – Scott (Joe) Watson – a technical author and photographer by profession, to celebrate the fascinating history and unique heritage of my home county of Durham and its historic relationship with the rest of northern England and the Scottish border.
Several years ago I wanted to publicise the newly discovered delights (for me at least) of the Weardale Way, a brilliant but still little known long distance walk that runs right through the heart of Durham and which I slowly came to realise was a fantastic context for so much of Durham’s history. So, briefly, I started this website, published a guide book – The Weardale Way ‘A Guided Tour along the River Wear through County Durham and Sunderland’ – then decided to continue the adventure with its better known neighbour, the Teesdale Way which in turn led me to realise that despite the fact that for much of their early length these two trails are only a few miles apart, each is unique but together they make an inseparable contribution to the heritage of the county.
I came to learn that Durham’s special and enduring historic status of ‘county palatine’ under the sovereign-like rule of the ‘prince-bishops’ was financed to a large extent by the mineral resources that were mined in Durham’s dales, a store of potential wealth that had been laid down over 300 million years ago when the land mass lay on the equator. Much, much later, large parts were bequeathed to the community of St Cuthbert by Saxon and Danish kings, which in turn subsequent bishops with their ‘North Durham’ liberties that lay many miles away, beyond the Tyne, deep inside Northumberland and on the Scottish border. So it became evident to me that to properly understand the county it would have to be in the context of the region as a whole and its border with Scotland.
But why ‘The Durham Cow’? Well, whichever legend you prefer regarding the city’s origins, the lowly cow features in both of them and to this day it is the animal most commonly associated with Durham. I’m just continuing that tradition and, of course, now that you’ve ‘herd’ of us you’ll know that we always try to go ‘a-bovine’ beyond in everything we do!