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Historic Cathedral’s ancient past revealed

Ancient tombs are among intriguing archaeological finds unearthed during major redevelopment work at historic Wakefield Cathedral. 

Archaeologists carry out excavation work inside Wakefield Cathedral. [Credit: Jonathan Gawthorpe]
Cathedral chiefs are inviting the public to view the historic artefacts before they are re-buried. 

The excavations have revealed worship has taken place on the site of the 800-year-old cathedral for more than 1,000 years. 

Archaeologists started excavations inside the Grade I listed building as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment scheme, Project 2013. 

They are removing buried remains from inside the nave to allow a new floor to be installed. The digging has already revealed 13 burials, most of which date back to the 18th or 19th century. 

But archaeologists have also found two medieval stone graves and two probable early walls. 

Andy Norton, part of the team from Wessex Archaeology, said: “Until recently it was common for people to be buried next to or even inside churches and cathedrals. When churches were extended they could be built on top of earlier graves. So the new floor for the Cathedral nave will be at a lower level than the current one and would have damaged any graves there.” 

Wessex Archaeology chairman Robert Key said: “It is important that our places of worship, which are often wonderful historic building, are renewed for modern times. 

“But we have to respect our heritage and also make sure that no damage is done to the remains of the people who were buried here hundreds of years ago. All the burials will be carefully recorded and removed before the remains are re-interred.” 

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post [May 18, 2012]

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