In the county of Derbyshire in England, there is an ancient network of artificial caves that were deliberately created by man. For a long time, scientists could not understand how they were used, but a new study showed that in the 9th century AD. there lived the exiled king of Northumbria, who led a hermitic lifestyle, and was later recognized as a saint.
After exile or retirement, many monarchs preferred to lead a religious life, thereby gaining holiness. And hermitage was one of the best ways to achieve this goal.
Translated from English, the name of the caves sounds like "Anchor Church". It was formed from the Greek term ἀναχωρέω anachōreō, meaning “to go to the countryside,” which is visually similar to the English word “anchor”.
Local legend has it that King Erdwulf, or Saint Hardulf as he was later called, lived in caves after being dethroned and exiled in 806 AD. Erdwulf ruled during a period of political instability in medieval England. He took the throne in 796 and ruled Northumbria (one of the seven kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy with the capital in York) for only 10 years, after which he was overthrown, presumably, by his son. Now scientists have established exactly where Erdwulf lived after these events.
Researchers at the Royal Agricultural University (UK) have reconstructed the original appearance of the caves, which consisted of three rooms and a chapel facing east. To do this, they used detailed measurements, drone footage and careful study of the features of the caves, which are very reminiscent of Saxon architecture.
Scientists believe that these caves were rebuilt by the English aristocrat Sir Robert Burdett in the 18th century. He equipped them so that his friends could dine in the cool cells of the Anchor Church. Burdette also installed brickwork and window frames into the caves, as well as widened the doors so that women in voluminous dresses could enter.