An archaeologist explores a trench at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland. The team have found fragments of a stained glass window, pottery, and charred bricks which could have come from an explosion during the Civil Qar era.
A team from Durham University is digging in the grounds of Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland before work to turn the historic site into a tourist destination begins. It has revealed new information about the site's 900 year history.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a building near the castle's Scotland Wing, alongside evidence of burning.
The castle's head curator, Dr Chris Ferguson, believes the volume of debris could suggest a 'very dramatic end' to what looks to have been a substantial structure.
– The castle's head curator, Dr Chris Ferguson
"Sir Arthur Hazlerigg, was one of the five MPs who led the rebellion against Charles I in 1642, he was appointed Oliver Cromwell's general in the North East,"
"In 1650 he bought Auckland Castle after the then Bishop of Durham had fled at the height of the civil war.
"We know he set about what was later described as the 'ravenous sacrilege' of the building and that he proceeded to blow up the 350-year-old chapel with gunpowder with the intention of reusing the stone in a new mansion.
"If gunpowder was indeed used then that could account for the astounding amount of wreckage that has been found."
– Natalie Swann, project archaeologist at Durham University
"Whatever happened here is from a time when records were either vague or non-existent, so anything we find will help add to the overall picture of the castle."
A dig in Bishop Auckland may have uncovered evidence of a dramatic English Civil War episode. A team from Durham University is digging in the grounds of Auckland Castle before work to turn the historic site into a tourist destination begins.