Stunning medieval chapel uncovered in County Durham, UK

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Stunning medieval chapel uncovered in County Durham, UK

More than 370 years after it was destroyed in the wake of the First English Civil War, a stunning 14th century medieval chapel has been uncovered in County Durham, UK. Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship — Bek's Chapel — were uncovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University.

The exact location of the chapel had remained a mystery since it was demolished in the 1650s — despite it having been larger than the king's own chapel in Westminster.

The team spent five months carefully unearthing the foundations of the chapel — including part of the floor, the buttresses along the sides of the chapel and walls that measured 4.9 feet (1.5 m) thick by 39 feet (12 m) wide and 131 feet (40 m) long. 

The chapel was built in the early 1300s for Bishop Antony Bek, who was the Prince-Bishop of Durham from around 1284–1310 and was reportedly both a great warrior and also one of the most influential men in Europe around that time.

However, the castle ultimately fell into the possession of one Sir Arthur Haselrig — a leader of the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I — in 1646, in the wake of the First English Civil War. 

Sir Haselrig proceeded to demolish much of the medieval structure — including the chapel — building a mansion on the site instead.

'This is archaeology at its very best,' commented Durham University archaeologist Chris Gerrard.

'Professionals, volunteers and Durham students working together as a team to piece together clues from documents and old illustrations using the very latest survey techniques to solve the mystery of the whereabouts of this huge lost structure.'

When the researchers resume their excavations, they hope that they will be able to uncover more of the south side of the building.

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