September 25th, 2016

Unexpected archaeological finds in Coventry Cathedral restoration project

RESTORATION WORK at Coventry Cathedral has unearthed some unexpected archaeological finds.

In two talks open to the general public at 1pm on Wednesday, July 15 and Friday, July 17, the project’s lead archaeologist, Paul Murray, will tell the story how waterproofing work to the Undercroft of the old Cathedral has led his team to make some interesting discoveries about the history of the iconic building.

In uncovering a wall from the the 13th century Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Hill by the Cemetery was uncovered, they expected to find only a parts of it.

But archaeologists were presented with enough original stonework to confirmed the chapel was actually a two story building – the top floor being removed as the Cathedral was expanded over it.

From research completed before the project, the team had also hoped to discover a third concealed Crypt, but no Crypt has been discovered.

Instead there was a small space into which rubble from the interior of the ruined Cathedral had been placed.

As most of the rubble was broken down after the Second World War, this piece of carved masonry is a ‘time capsule’ to a long- lost Coventry.

For the first time in 75 years, the original stone floor of the medieval Cathedral – made up of memorial stones dating back to the 18th century – can be seen alongside the burnt wooden base of the Rood Screen which was destroyed in the fire following the 1940 bombing.

The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry, said: “The main purpose of the project is to make the spaces underneath the stone floor watertight – the first step to reopening these amazing spaces to the public.

“The archaeology which has been discovered is an added bonus which gives us fascinating of the lives of those who have worshipped on Hill Top up to 800 years ago.”

The archaeology will be visible to the general public for the next two weeks (until roughly July 23) before the new watertight membrane and drainage system is installed.

Mr Murray’s talks will take place in the Coventry Cathedral ruins and are free and open to all, though donations are welcome.

More information on the restoration work can be found on the Cathedral’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coventrycathedral