VISITORS are being invited into Wakefield Cathedral to view exciting archaeological finds including ancient tombs, medieval church walls and other signs that worship has taken place on the site for over a thousand years.
Archaeologists started excavation work inside the Grade 1 listed building as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment scheme, Project 2013.
They are removing burials from inside the nave to allow a new floor to be installed and their work has already revealed 13 burials most of which date from the 18th or 19th century but they have also found two medieval stone graves, two probable early walls and a shard of pottery, which is currently being dated.
Archaeological tours will run at 12.30 and 12.45pm on 25th, 28th , 30th May, 31st May, and Friday 1st June. Those booked in for 8th June will be phoned individually and offered one of the alternative dates.
The cathedral building is over 800 years old and dates back to the 12th century - but it is thought that there was a church on the site before that and some of the archaeological finds suggest that too.
The Dean of Wakefield, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, said ‘there are some exciting finds – especially the older stone graves - as it reminds us that worship has been on this site for a thousand years and more.’
Andy Norton, Project Manager for 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. The new floor for the Cathedral nave will be at a lower level than the current one and would have damaged any graves there.’
The Chairman of Wessex Archaeology, Robert Key, a former MP and a Lay member of the Synod of the Church of England added ‘it is important that our places of worship, which are often wonderful historic buildings 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 reinterred.’
TO BOOK A TOUR contact Karn Dyson at the Cathedral on 01924 373923 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Project 2013 is run by Wakefield Cathedral and is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund.