|In May SWAAG members heard about the recent excavations taking place at Auckland Castle, which was the seat of the rich and powerful Prince Bishops of Durham. The talk was given by John Castling, the Auckland Project’s archaeology curator and a doctoral researcher at Durham University.
Auckland Castle, with its parkland setting, is one of the North East’s most important medieval residential complexes. Historical documents have provided information about its occupants and the functions it served, but excavation has revealed the nature of the buildings, as well as uncovering artefacts from down the centuries. The most recent discovery is that of a magnificent, early fourteenth century, two-storey chapel, built by Bishop Bek. This was on a scale comparable to St. Stephen’s Chapel, in the old Palace of Westminster, and Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris. The chapel was deliberately destroyed at the time of the Commonwealth, in the seventeenth century. There is evidence of burning and the use of gunpowder, as well as systematic dismantling. The ruins of the chapel can be visited until they are covered over again, in July 2022.