The cathedral is built on what is believed to be the site of the martyrdom of St Alban. The hill upon which it stands overlooks the valley of the river Ver, beyond which lie the buried ruins of the Roman city of Verulamium.
The shrine of St Alban is documented from early times, and it is recorded that St Germanus of Auxerre visited the site in 429. Early in the 8th century, Bede wrote of the 'beautiful Church worthy of all Alban's martyrdom where miracles of healing took place.' The monastic structure of this church was re-ordered by King Offa of Mercia in 793 and a new order and discipline introduced by St Oswald in the 960s. The availability of huge amounts of building material from the ruins of nearby Roman Verulamium was put to good use in the Norman era, from which time many of the features of the building date.
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