St Patrick’s Chapel in Heysham

St. Patrick’s Day was on the 17th March, so it is a good moment to mention the remains of St. Patrick’s Chapel in Heysham, Lancashire (England). Yet, it is not only the ruins that are left of this 8th century chapel, but also questions!

St Patrick Pawla

The remains of St. Patrick’s chapel. Photo by Paweł W.

St Patrick Pawla 2

A view from a side. Photo by Paweł W.

The chapel was built at the very edge of a hill.

St Patrick 3

What was the purpose of the chapel? It was not part of a monastery, and the parish church of St. Peter rose right next to it around the same time and is still used today:

St Peter's church Heysham

St. Peter’s church in Heysham. Built c. 967 AD.  Photo by Karolina R.

St. Patrick’s chapel seems to have a very ‘loose’ connection with the very St. Patrick, as the patron saint of Ireland lived 3 centuries earlier. It is not known how old the characteristic graves cut in a rock next to the chapel are; they might have been made before the Norman Conquest, or appear before the chapel was built. Some of these graves had tombstones or makers, yet they did not survive. These rock-cut graves are very unique and not found anywhere else in the world.

St Patrick's Karoliny 2

Rock-cut graves with rainwater in them. Photo by Karolina R.

Other cemeteries have been found around the chapel. Outside its door, in a depression, archaeologists discovered a grave of a woman next to which a comb from a Viking-age was found.

It is hard to say how many more unsolved mysteries this site hides. Perhaps the University of Lancaster will send another team of archeaologists to dig out some more… 🙂

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