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17 16 The DIsAsTROUs FIRe OF 1184 and a great discovery on may 25th 1184 a terrible fire broke out in the abbey caused by a candle setting light to wall hangings inside. this spread to the old church, and other monastic buildings nearby were engulfed in the flames together with many of the holy relics. All of these were burned to ashes. It seemed like a blow from which the abbey could never recover and the number of pilgrims soon dwindled. Within two years the chapel of st Mary which we see today had been built precisely on the site where the old church had once stood. this remarkable church with its two Romanesque doorways in the north and the south walls would eventually become the west end of the great abbey itself that rose phoenixlike from the ashes of its predecessor. even today this, of all parts of the ruined abbey, seems to resonate with the pure energy of the sanctity of the old church. However, well before much of this new abbey was built, the monks, while digging in the ancient burial ground to the south of the st Mary chapel in 1191, made a quite extraordinary discovery. they found a double oak coffin buried 16 ft below the ground and containing the bones of a tall man and a woman whose long golden hair was still preserved. We will consider whose bones these were.
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