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Beautiful 14th century medieval chapel has been discovered in County Durham

A beautiful 14th-century medieval chapel gas was discovered in County Durham, 370 years after it was destroyed in the aftermath of the First English Civil War.

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship – Bek’s Chapel – were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University.

Experts believe that the chapel would have been beautiful in its heyday – with a wooden ceiling and huge pillars with decorated brickwork.

The exact location of the chapel had remained a mystery since it was demolished in 1650 – even though it was larger than the king’s own chapel in Westminster.

Some of the pieces of carved stone that make up the two-story structure were even as heavy as a small car, researchers said.

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A beautiful 14th-century medieval chapel gas was discovered in County Durham, 370 years after it was destroyed in the aftermath of the First English Civil War. Pictured, a reconstruction by an artist of what the chapel would have looked like when it was in use

A beautiful 14th-century medieval chapel gas was discovered in County Durham, 370 years after it was destroyed in the aftermath of the First English Civil War. Pictured, a reconstruction by an artist of what the chapel would have looked like when it was in use

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the chapel digs. In the foreground is a foundation for a column base, with the foundations for the southern wall of the chapel visible on the right

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the chapel digs. In the foreground is a foundation for a column base, with the foundations for the southern wall of the chapel visible on the right

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship – Bek’s Chapel – were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the chapel digs. In the foreground is a foundation for a column base, with the foundations for the southern wall of the chapel visible on the right

The exact location of the chapel had remained a mystery since it was demolished in 1650 - even though it was larger than the king's own chapel in Westminster. Pictured, an artist's impression of Auckland Castle in the 14th century, with the chapel on the left

The exact location of the chapel had remained a mystery since it was demolished in 1650 - even though it was larger than the king's own chapel in Westminster. Pictured, an artist's impression of Auckland Castle in the 14th century, with the chapel on the left

The exact location of the chapel had remained a mystery since it was demolished in 1650 – even though it was larger than the king’s own chapel in Westminster. Pictured, an artist’s impression of Auckland Castle in the 14th century, with the chapel on the left

WHO WAS BISHOP ANTHONY BEK?

Anthony Bek was the bishop prince of Durham from around 1284–1310.

Bek was born into a knight family around the year 1245 and became one of the most influential men in all of Europe.

Bek secured the favor of the then Prince Edward – later King Edward I.

He accompanied Edward on a crusade in 1270 and would serve as the king’s long-term adviser.

He had a result of 140 knights.

The bishop was known for his courage, chastity, and extravagance.

Bek died in London on March 3, 1311 and was buried two months later in Durham.

The team spent five months carefully uncovering the foundations of the chapel – including part of the floor, the buttresses along the sides of the chapel and walls that were 1.5 meters thick by 12 meters wide and 12 meters wide 40 m ) long.

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

Experts believe that the greatness and decorations would have served as an explanation for the status of the bishop prince – who had the power to raise armies, mint coins and even rule instead of the king, Edward I.

Bishop Bek had the castle itself built from an existing 12th-century mansion to serve as his main residence thanks to the proximity of his hunting estate.

He added the great hall, the defensive walls of the castle and the chapel – the latter of which was described as “luxuriously built” and “extraordinarily good”, comparable in scale to the size of continental chapels such as Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

However, the castle eventually fell into the possession of one Sir Arthur Haselrig – a leader of the parliamentary opposition to Charles I – in 1646, in the aftermath of the First English Civil War.

Sir Haselrig continued to demolish much of the medieval structure – including the chapel – and instead built a mansion on the site.

The castle was then rebuilt after the restoration of the monarchy, at which point the former banquet hall was converted into a replacement chapel.

The team spent five months carefully uncovering the foundations of the chapel - including part of the floor, the buttresses along the sides of the chapel and walls that were 1.5 meters thick by 12 meters wide and 12 meters wide 40 m ) long

The team spent five months carefully uncovering the foundations of the chapel - including part of the floor, the buttresses along the sides of the chapel and walls that were 1.5 meters thick by 12 meters wide and 12 meters wide 40 m ) long

The team spent five months carefully uncovering the foundations of the chapel – including part of the floor, the buttresses along the sides of the chapel and walls that were 1.5 meters thick by 12 meters wide and 12 meters wide 40 m ) long

The chapel was built in the early 1300s for Bishop Antony Bek, who was Prince-Bishop of Durham from about 1284–1310 and was reportedly both a great warrior and one of the most influential men in Europe at the time. In the photo a volunteer works on the floor of the chapel

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 one of the most influential men in Europe at the time. In the photo a volunteer works on the floor of the chapel

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 one of the most influential men in Europe at the time. In the photo a volunteer works on the floor of the chapel

Experts believe that the grandeur and decorations of the chapel would have served as an explanation for the status of the bishop-prince - who had the power to dismantle and even rule armies, coins instead of the king, Edward I. Pictured , archaeologists John Castlng (left) and Jamie Armstrong (right) with an intricately carved ceiling boss from the chapel

Experts believe that the grandeur and decorations of the chapel would have served as an explanation for the status of the bishop-prince - who had the power to dismantle and even rule armies, coins instead of the king, Edward I. Pictured , archaeologists John Castlng (left) and Jamie Armstrong (right) with an intricately carved ceiling boss from the chapel

Experts believe that the grandeur and decorations of the chapel would have served as an explanation for the status of the bishop-prince – who had the power to dismantle and even rule armies, coins instead of the king, Edward I. Pictured , archaeologists John Castling (left) and Jamie Armstrong (right) with an intricately carved ceiling boss from the chapel

Bishop Bek had the castle itself built from an existing 12th-century mansion to serve as his main residence thanks to the proximity of his hunting estate. Pictured, the excavation of the modern castle, a monumental historical site

Bishop Bek had the castle itself built from an existing 12th-century mansion to serve as his main residence thanks to the proximity of his hunting estate. Pictured, the excavation of the modern castle, a monumental historical site

Bishop Bek had the castle itself built from an existing 12th-century mansion to serve as his main residence thanks to the proximity of his hunting estate. Pictured, the excavation of the modern castle, a monumental historical site

“This is archeology at its best,” said Durham University archaeologist Chris Gerrard.

“Professionals, volunteers and Durham students work together as a team to merge clues from documents and old illustrations using the latest research techniques to solve the mystery of the location of this huge lost structure.”

The volunteers came from the local charity The Auckland Project, which currently owns the castle.

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the location of the excavation site at Auckland Castle, before excavations took place

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the location of the excavation site at Auckland Castle, before excavations took place

Part of Auckland Castle, the remains of the long lost place of worship – Bek’s Chapel – were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University. On the photo the location of the excavation site at Auckland Castle, before excavations took place

Bishop Bek's castle eventually came into the possession of one Sir Arthur Haselrig - a leader of the parliamentary opposition to Charles I - in 1646, in the aftermath of the First English Civil War. Sir Haselrig continued to demolish much of the medieval structure - including the chapel - and instead built a mansion on the site. Pictured, the modern castle and the excavations

Bishop Bek's castle eventually came into the possession of one Sir Arthur Haselrig - a leader of the parliamentary opposition to Charles I - in 1646, in the aftermath of the First English Civil War. Sir Haselrig continued to demolish much of the medieval structure - including the chapel - and instead built a mansion on the site. Pictured, the modern castle and the excavations

Bishop Bek’s castle eventually came into the possession of one Sir Arthur Haselrig – a leader of the parliamentary opposition to Charles I – in 1646, in the aftermath of the First English Civil War. Sir Haselrig continued to demolish much of the medieval structure – including the chapel – and instead built a mansion on the site. Pictured, the modern castle and the excavations

The castle was then rebuilt after the restoration of the monarchy, at which point the former banquet hall was converted into a replacement chapel. Depicted, a ceiling boss from the chapel, with carved ivy and grape designs

The castle was then rebuilt after the restoration of the monarchy, at which point the former banquet hall was converted into a replacement chapel. Depicted, a ceiling boss from the chapel, with carved ivy and grape designs

The castle was then rebuilt after the restoration of the monarchy, at which point the former banquet hall was converted into a replacement chapel. Depicted, a ceiling boss from the chapel, with carved ivy and grape designs

“It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of this building built by one of the Prince’s most powerful bishops as a statement of his power,” said John Castling, curator of archeology and social history at The Auckland Project.

“Finally, discovering the chapel was a fantastic moment for the entire team, including students from Durham University and volunteers from The Auckland Project.”

“We were all surprised by the enormous scale of the chapel and it’s great to be able to share the reconstruction image that shows a building that would have stunned visitors from all walks of life.”

Some pieces of carved stone that make up the two-story chapel were as heavy as a small car, researchers said. Depicted, a great jumper from the top of a column, from the chapel location

Some pieces of carved stone that make up the two-story chapel were as heavy as a small car, researchers said. Depicted, a great jumper from the top of a column, from the chapel location

Some pieces of carved stone that make up the two-story chapel were as heavy as a small car, researchers said. Depicted, a great jumper from the top of a column, from the chapel location

“This is archeology at its best,” said Durham University archaeologist Chris Gerrard. Pictured, archaeologists Jamie Armstrong and John Castling at the chapel dig site

The photo shows a large dent on the original chapel floor. Experts believe this was caused when the building was demolished, causing a brick from the vaulted ceiling to fall down into the floor

The photo shows a large dent on the original chapel floor. Experts believe this was caused when the building was demolished, causing a brick from the vaulted ceiling to fall down into the floor

The photo shows a large dent on the original chapel floor. Experts believe this was caused when the building was demolished, causing a brick from the vaulted ceiling to fall down into the floor

“We are really looking forward to returning to Auckland [Castle] in June for another season of excavations, “Professor Gerrard added.

When the researchers resume their excavations, they hope they can discover more from the south side of the building.

In the meantime, an exhibition entitled “Inside Story: Conserving Auckland Castle” opens on March 4 in the castle’s Bishop Trevor Gallery and runs until September 6.

When the researchers resume their excavations, they hope they can discover more from the south side of the building. In the photo, archaeologist Peter Ryder makes notes about part of the brickwork that was discovered on the excavation

When the researchers resume their excavations, they hope they can discover more from the south side of the building. In the photo, archaeologist Peter Ryder makes notes about part of the brickwork that was discovered on the excavation

When the researchers resume their excavations, they hope they can discover more from the south side of the building. In the photo, archaeologist Peter Ryder makes notes about part of the brickwork that was discovered on the excavation

An exhibition entitled “Inside Story: Conserving Auckland Castle” opens on March 4 in the castle’s Bishop Trevor Gallery and runs until September 6. The photo shows the foundation of a column base, surrounded by debris from the demolished chapel

Researchers found the base stone for a mainstay that had cracked in two - damage possibly caused during the demolition of the chapel Below the stone, which is considered a filling hole for gunpowder, can be seen

Researchers found the base stone for a mainstay that had cracked in two - damage possibly caused during the demolition of the chapel Below the stone, which is considered a filling hole for gunpowder, can be seen

Researchers found the base stone for a mainstay that had cracked in two – damage possibly caused during the demolition of the chapel Below the stone, which is considered a filling hole for gunpowder, can be seen

Part of Auckland Castle in Durham County, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University

Part of Auckland Castle in Durham County, the remains of the long lost place of worship - Bek's Chapel - were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University

Part of Auckland Castle in Durham County, the remains of the long lost place of worship – Bek’s Chapel – were discovered with the help of staff and students from Durham University

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