World Heritage Site Durham Castle


In 2009 a competition to redesign the exterior floodlighting of Durham Cathedral and Castle (a World Heritage Site (WHS)) was organised by Durham County Council, Durham City Vision, Durham University, WHS Coordinating Committee and the Institution of Lighting Professionals. The existing floodlighting, installed in the 1960s, had reached the end of its serviceable life and the lamps and control gear were no longer energy efficient. Therefore it needed replacing, using modern equipment.

On the 28th February 2012, the new lighting of Durham Castle was first switched on as part of an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Durham being a WHS.

In total 37 luminaires were removed and 107 installed. Three types of lantern were selected, Neos-2, Neos-1 and Noctis 225. To maximise the impact of the lighting 17 different bespoke beam configurations were specified, many using multiple optic types to create the desired effect. The LEDs used were High Power Cree XP-E and XR-E, all driven at 350ma with 7 individual optic types. Given the need for consistency in light source colour temperature throughout the project, we involved the lantern manufacturers at the design stage. This ensured that variances in colour temperature were within 100k.

All the lighting units are fully controllable using a DMX protocol. DMX, used with LED technology, offered the level of control and flexibility required. One of our fundamental objectives was to minimise the impact on the fabric of the Castle, with a minimum of new cable routes.

Simple remote access to the DMX controller was important – and from previous experience, the Pharos LPC1 lighting controller was the most appropriate solution. This is linked to the computer networks of Durham County Council and Durham University to control the lighting for specific events.

To establish the Castle’s own identity we chose a colour temperature of 3000-3500K with the Castle’s counterpart, Durham Cathedral a cooler 3500-4000K. This was to ensure that the two buildings retained their own identity and also to make it possible to distinguish between the two buildings when viewing from a distance.