an ancient holy place
A few years ago on an afternoon visit to Knaresborough, I discovered this small ancient cave and chapel remains. Hidden amongst the trees on a dark rainy day and visiting it on my own, it felt quite eerie and foreboding. My next visit there was in the summertime with a friend, but it still had the same dark feeling and we were glad to step back into the light. On this visit, 2 weeks ago, it felt different, the darkness seemed to have lifted and it felt peaceful. I ventured into the cave on my own and spent a few minutes meditating in the darkness and my fingers were tingling with the quiet energy coming from the cave.
From the info board at the cave:
The cave is cut into the limestone cliff and originally it served as the chapel, inside the cave is a small shelf cut out of the stone, which may have served as an altar. Robert is said to have enlarged the cave himself, whilst his brother William had the small chapel built on the platform outside the cave. There are some remains of the small chapel, wall foundations, altar base and nave in which Robert was buried, his body was moved to the local priory sometime after 1250. At the far end of the site is the living area, outside the entrance to the cave, where a bench is cut into the rock.
Saint Robert’s Cave is a rare survival of a medieval hermit’s home. This site once attracted thousands of pilgrims to this North Yorkshire town. Robert of Knaresborough lived on this site in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Toward the end of his life, pilgrims came to be healed of physical ailments, for spiritual guidance, or simply to be in close proximity to the home of a revered holy man and they continued to come to the cave in large numbers for centuries after his death in 1218. The site retains a remarkable atmosphere of distant times.
Knaresborough in Yorkshire is one of my favourite places to visit, it’s a picturesque medieval market town, with its ancient castle ruins, panoramic view of the Nidd Gorge, narrow streets, alleyways, nooks and crannies to discover and also lots of great places to eat.
Sam Rowena x