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Video: The secret of the 1200-year-old man-made caves, where the exiled king hid, is revealed
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 13:10
In the English county of Derbyshire there is a very ancient network of man-made caves. For a long time, scientists fought to unravel the secrets of these structures. They could not understand either their origin or purpose in any way. New research has shed light on this question. The caves turned out to be a thousand years older than historians originally believed. In addition, they were the refuge of the exiled king, who was later canonized.
Archaeological research on the site was carried out by the Royal Agricultural University in collaboration with the archaeologists of Wessex. They were led by Edmund Simons in order to solve the riddle of the origin of the caves.
It was originally thought to be an architectural whim, an 18th-century decorative building created for the entertainment of the nobility. However, recent finds show that the caves actually date back to the 9th century. It was a living quarters with a chapel with him.
The archaeologists have done very careful measurements. They studied all the archaeological details in detail. Drone surveys were also taken to reconstruct the original building plan. The building, built 1200 years ago, is quite well preserved. There are whole floors, a roof, doors and windows. All this splendor is carved into the soft sandstone. The cave is considered the oldest surviving such structure in the UK.
Many features of the caves indicate Anglo-Saxon origins. Narrow doorways and windows are very reminiscent of Saxon architecture. The rock-cut pillar found inside is very similar to those found in the Saxon crypt in nearby Repton.
“It's amazing that such structures, more than 1200 years old, are in plain sight and not recognized by historians, antique dealers and archaeologists,” said Mark Horton, professor of archeology at RAU. "We are confident that there is still a lot to be found that will reveal unique details about Anglo-Saxon England."
A dwelling worthy of a king
According to archaeologists, this structure was once the refuge of King Eardwulf. This is the Anglo-Saxon monarch who ruled Northumbria from 796 to 806 AD. He was overthrown. The disgraced king even visited Pope Leo III, and the court of Charlemagne. He spent his last years in exile in Mercia.
Some historians believe that he was canonized and named Saint Hardulf. Although its very existence has not been confirmed due to the lack of historical documents. He is only mentioned in a book dating from the 16th century. It says that “at that time Saint Hardulf had a cell in a rock near Trent. Local legend also says that in these caves he lived and was buried in the royal monastery of Mercia at Bridon-on-the-hill.
“The architectural resemblance to Saxon buildings and the documented connection to Hardulf / Eardwulf provides compelling evidence that these caves were built or expanded to accommodate the exiled king,” Simons said.
“It was not unusual for deposed or retired members of the royal family during this period to start a religious life. To gain holiness and, in some cases, canonization,”the scientist continued.“Living in a cave as a hermit would be one way to achieve this. These cave dwellings have often been ignored by historians, but it is perhaps the only intact residential building that has survived from the Saxon period."
It is believed that the caves of the Anchor Church were abandoned shortly after the death of Hardulf, after which the Great Pagan Army set up a winter camp here.
18th century redesign
The caves were most likely modified by Sir Robert Burdette in the 18th century. Europe was at the center of a romantic movement centered on the medieval period and the aesthetics of rural England. Burdette redesigned the caves so he and his friends could dine in their cool and romantic rooms. These changes included the addition of window frames and brickwork, as well as widening doorways to accommodate women in sumptuous gowns. To confirm all the evidence found, additional archaeological and scientific research is planned.
If you are interested in this topic, read our article: the mystery of the ancient Indian temple, which is carved from a solid rock.