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U.K. rail workers discover a medieval shrine in cave


Archaeology South-East | Facebook | Fair Use

J-P Mauro - published on 04/09/20

The 14th-century remains of the place of worship were found on St. Catherine's Hill, also know as Drakehull or "The Hill of the Dragon."

While on a routine repair job, a team of U.K. rail workers has discovered a cave containing a shrine that dates to the 14th century. The team was deployed to clean up a small landslide near Guildford, in southern England, when they came upon the remains of what was clearly at one point a place of worship.

Fox News reports that experts have suggested that the site was once a shrine, or even perhaps a hermitage. Due to its close proximity to St. Catherine’s Church (which is also medieval in origin) it is theorized that the two are linked.

The cave is quite small, just a few feet high, but it is believed that it was much larger at one time. The walls are etched with initials and markings, some of which are Christian in nature, and there is even a Calvary Cross carved into the sediment. On the ceiling are small black dots, which are thought to have been made by medieval lamps.

The Telegraph spoke with a representative of Archaeology South East, the company responsible for the site’s excavation, who said:

“The cave contained what appear to be shrines or decorative niches, together with carved initials and other markings. “The old name for St Catherine’s Hill is Drakehull, ‘The Hill of the Dragon,’ so this has obviously been a site of ritual significance long before the construction of the church on the top of the hill in the late 13th century.”

The site has been turned over to an archaeological team for excavation and study. It is expected that they will learn more about the function of this secluded shrine. Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, told the Telegraph:

“A full and detailed record of the cave has been made and every effort will be made to preserve elements where possible during the regrading of the delicate and vulnerable sandstone cutting.”
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