County Durham in the UK has witnessed dramatic social and environmental shifts over the past 50 years, yet Durham Cathedral has stood at the heart of the region, seemingly solid, unchanging and eternal. It is frequently narrated as a prestigious jewel (a national treasure) that is surrounded by a countryside (and people) that clearly bear the time-marked scars of the processes of industrialisation and deindustrialisation. In this paper, I explore a recent moment in time when a partnership between the Cathedral and the local secular authorities aimed to rapidly transform our understanding of this space by connecting Cathedral and county through the newly laid Northern Saints' Trails. These Trails were designed as both a response to rapid changes in the local ecology and a catalyst for further transformation. The processes of this formation were ultimately delayed by the outbreak of COVID-19, yet this external force allowed the Pilgrimage project to find new life as a powerful healing practice for those who dwell in Durham. Attention to this process of purposeful, regular pilgrimage directs our attention towards the entangled nature of the home anthropologist and their role in the co-construction of space, leading to a call for a new articulation of both core methods in the anthropology of religion and a return to a form of prophetic anthropology (Miles-Watson, 2020).
Miles‐Watson, J. (2022). Transformed ecologies and transformational saints: Exploring new pilgrimage routes in North East England. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 33(3), 412-427. https://doi.org/10.1111/taja.12455