Anchor Church Caves, located by the River Trent in a secluded part of the countryside in central England, was long considered to be an 18th-century “folly” — an extravagant building made solely for ornamentation or as a joke.
But a new study has revealed that the cave house is the real deal. The 1,200-year-old structure was built during the tumultuous life of the Northumbrian king Eardwulf, who was hounded from his throne to live as a hermit, and later became a saint.
Local legend said Eardwulf, or St. Hardulph as he was later known, lived inside the cave dwelling after he was deposed and exiled for mysterious reasons in A.D. 806. A fragment from a 16th-century book states that Eardwulf ”has a cell in a cliff a little from the Trent,” and the banished king was buried in A.D. 830 at a location just 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the cave.