An oak door thought to be covered in human skin has been declared the oldest in Britain.
The historic door in Westminster Abbey is rumoured to be the site where a man was stripped of his skin in punishment for a religious crime.
The door dates back to the 11th century to the reign of Edward the Confessor and is the only Anglo Saxon door in Britain.
Three months of research on the door, costing ?3,800 and funded by English Heritage, has just finished.
An Abbey spokeswoman said: “In the 19th century it was noticed there were fragments of hide adhering to the door and a legend grew suggesting these were human.
“It was supposed that somebody in the Middle Ages had been caught committing sacrilege in the Abbey, had been flayed and his skin nailed to the door as a deterrent to other would-be felons.”
However, it is now believed to be only cow hide.
The door, which measures 6.5ft by 4ft, was made from one tree which probably grew between AD 924 and 1030
It opens into the octagonal Chapter House, where monks used to meet for daily prayers in the 13th century. It is now used as a storeroom.
Simon Thurley, of English Heritage, said: “It is incredible to think that when the door was made the Norman Conquest had not yet happened and William of Normandy was still a young man of about 20.”