Last chance to tour archaeological remains of medieval chapel at Auckland Castle

Tours take place at 2pm Wednesday to Sunday and are free for visitors with admission to Auckland Castle.

North News & Pictures northn In April 2022, the Bishop of Durham Paul Butler led a special Easter Service in the ruins of a chapel built by Prince Bishop Anthony Bek during the early 14th century in the grounds of Auckland Castle. IMAGE: North News

From 25 July, the spectacular ruins of a long-lost medieval chapel excavated in the grounds of Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, will undergo preservation work involving its reburial.

This week will be the last chance for visitors to enjoy an archaeological tour of the site before it disappears from view.

The chapel was constructed during the early 14th century for Prince Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek (1284-1310), but later destroyed in the 1650s following the English Civil War. For centuries its precise location remained unknown.

That was until a team of archaeologists and volunteers from Durham University and The Auckland Project uncovered the stunning remains of the chapel beneath the Castle’s lawns during six years of excavation.

A drone shot of an excavation trench dug in the chapel. IMAGE: © Durham University.

Since being revealed to the public in 2020, hundreds of visitors have enjoyed archaeological tours of the site.

From 25 July, however, work to rebury the chapel – to best ensure its preservation – will begin.

Bookings for the final tours, which take place at 2pm Wednesday to Sunday and are free for visitors with admission to Auckland Castle, are now being taken.

In recent months the opportunity to share the story of this chapel, which is the story of the rise and fall of Durham’s powerful bishops and noblemen, with members of the public has been such a privilege,’ said John Castling, Archaeology and Social History Curator at The Auckland Project and PhD researcher at Durham University.

‘The excavation really is one of the most spectacular medieval digs in the whole country in recent decades, so I’d encourage anyone who can to come and visit before the final tour at the end of July.’

Auckland Castle, County Durham. IMAGE: House of Hues.

The ruins are set to be covered by a new outdoor space, the Faith Garden, which will reference the significance of the site.

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