Rail Workers Discover 14th Century Cave While Making Repairs in England

Rail Workers Discover 14th Century Cave While Making Repairs in England
The cave was discovered when workers were making repairs after a landslip in Surrey, United Kingdom. (Courtesy of Network Rail)

Workers discovered a 14th century cave and drawings while doing construction on a railroad in Great Britain earlier this week, adding to the other historic finds they previously uncovered.

The workers were repairing a landslip near Guildford in Surrey, England, when they discovered the cave, according to Network Rail, which owns and runs Britain’s railway infrastructure.

A specialist archaeological contractor suggested the cave may have been used in medieval times as a shrine or hermitage associated with St. Catherine’s Chapel. The ruins of the early 14th century chapel sit on a hill nearby the railroad.

The cave may have been much bigger in its prime, but it seems only a small section survived, according to experts who examined the findings. The drawings show a Gothic niche decorated in dots with a Christian cross over to the side.

Experts found seven or eight niches and the remains of two suspected fire pits as well. They said they are hoping to use charcoal and soot found in the cave to do radiocarbon dating, in order to determine the exact period of time when the cave was used.

“This is an unexpected and fascinating discovery that helps to visualize and understand the rich history of the area,” Mark Killick, route director of the Wessex route, said.

“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.”

This is one of several discoveries made during construction or repair on a UK railway route.

In March, what is believed to be the oldest railway roundhouse was discovered at the Birmingham Curzon Street station. In 2014, several historic artifacts were uncovered at London Bridge.

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