Families and researchers can now view honours awarded to Durham Light Infantry soldiers after more than 4,000 medals were loaned to Palace Green Library.
The historical items, a part of the DLI Collection, have been brought to the heart of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to a partnership between Durham County Council, Durham University and the former regiment’s Trustees.
There, as well as being available to view by appointment, the medals will support a new, free DLI gallery that opens in March 2017.
Cllr Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture said: “The medals are a magnificent testament to the history and heroism of over 1,000 Durham soldiers.
“Their story is central to our county heritage and by bringing this important part of the DLI Collection to Palace Green, near to the DLI chapel at Durham Cathedral and the DLI memorial statue in the Market Place, it both opens it up to academics and researchers for study, and to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the heart of our city every year.
“This loan will also support a superb semi-permanent exhibition that will explore over 200 years of service and sacrifice by our families and communities, helping to ensure that their bravery and courage is never forgotten.”
James Ramsbotham, chairman of the DLI Trustees, said: “The DLI held many of their most poignant Parades on Palace Green. We are very grateful to Durham University and Durham County Council for their outstanding support in bringing this historic medal collection to the heart of Durham where it will be accessible to all.
“It truly honours the courage and sacrifice of so many who were ‘Faithful’ in so many conflicts over recent centuries.”
Individual medals or medal sets can be viewed by appointment at the Barker Research Library, in Palace Green Library.
Dr Keith Bartlett, director of culture for Durham University, said “We are delighted to assist the Council in maintaining access to the important collections of this historic regiment and look forward to welcoming families and researchers who wish to view the medals.”
To launch the medal research service, the University and Council are hosting a special event at Palace Green Library at 2.30pm on Friday 11 November.
Philip Attwood, keeper of coins and medals at the British Museum, will give a talk, titled Designing Medals in Victorian Britain: The Inside Story.
Dr Craig Barclay, head of university museums, will also give a talk, titled You Were a Long Time in Coming: the Sacriston Inundation of 1903, which will touch on two key elements of Durham’s heritage – mining and the DLI.