a hermit king may have been the first resident of Cave House – .

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a hermit king may have been the first resident of Cave House – .


  • A cave house has been discovered in England, believed to have housed a king in exile.
  • The building was considered a party destination for the 18th century elite, but a much older story unfolds.
  • These finds were made by archaeologists from the Royal Agricultural University and Wessex University.
  • Visit the Insider home page for more stories.

An ancient cave house next to a river has been revealed to be the home of a deposed English king who became a hermit in the East Midlands of medieval England.

For a long time the Foremark and Ingleby Caves in southern Derbyshire were considered a folly dating back to the 18th century, when the building was used for celebrations for the upper classes of England.

But a new study has found that they’re much more likely to be dated to the 9th century.

Edmund Simons, principal investigator on the project and researcher at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), said in a press release: ‘This makes it possibly the oldest intact domestic interior in the UK – with doors, floor, roof, windows. , etc. – and, in addition, it may have been inhabited by a king who had become a saint. “

Local legends connect the caves to Saint Hardulph – a fragment from a 16th century book indicates that “at that time Saint Hardulph had a cell in a cliff somewhat of the Trent” and local folklore identifies these caves as the occupied ones. by Hardulph, also known as Eardwulf the King of Northumbria from 796 to 806.

The new study strongly ties the saint – who was sent into exile after being defeated in battle and removed from the throne – with the ancient cave house.

“The architectural similarities to Saxon buildings, and the documented association with Hardulph / Eardwulf, convincingly prove that these caves were built or enlarged to house the king in exile,” said Simons.

Photo of 8th-century cave discovered to be the hiding place of an exiled king

Photo of 8th-century cave discovered to be the hiding place of an exiled king

Royal Agricultural University

“It was not uncommon for fallen or retired kingship to enter religious life during this period, achieving holiness and, in some cases, canonization. Living in a hermit cave would have been one way to achieve this, ”said Simons.

The historic find was conducted by archaeologists from the newly established Institute of Cultural Heritage at the Royal Agricultural University, in collaboration with Wessex Archeology.

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