Archaeologists involved in working inside Exeter Cathedral in the UK, have made an extraordinary discovery that is being hailed as “the most exciting” in the building’s history. They have uncovered an ancient Norman altar, dating back to the early 12th Century, located beneath the Quire area of the cathedral, which itself is nearly 900 years old. In addition to the Norman high altar, the team has also revealed a sunken area that suggests the presence of a crypt beneath the cathedral. This crypt is believed to have been built around 1300 AD, despite previous expert opinions that no such space existed. Furthermore, the archaeologists have come across two empty tombs, believed to have belonged to bishops Robert Warelwast, who was the nephew of the founding bishop William Warelwast and passed away around 1155, and William Brewer, who passed away in 1244.
Premier Christian News reports:
Archaeologists working inside Exeter Cathedral uncovered “the most exciting discovery ever made” in the buildings history.
The team has discovered an old Norman altar, built in the early 12th Century, and now sits below the Quire area of the 900-year-old building.
Beyond the Norman high altar, a sunken area has been revealed, which archaeologists now believe indicates a crypt beneath the building, thought to have been built in 1300 AD, despite experts long believing no such space ever existed.
They have also found, cutting into the backfill, a pair of empty tombs to which they believe belong to bishops Robert Warelwast (nephew of the founding bishop William Warelwast, died c.1155) and William Brewer (who died in 1244)
It’s believed the bodies were translated in 1320, from their original burial places in the Norman Quire.
The archaeological team have branded it the “the most exciting archaeological discovery ever made at Exeter Cathedral.”
The discoveries have come just in time, as the project is due to end in the coming days.
Next week, specialist contractors will continue work in the area, to complete essential building conservation, reduce the Cathedral’s carbon footprint with a more efficient underfloor heating system, and lay a new ‘Jubilee Floor’ tile design using locally-sourced Devon stone.
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Photo by Antony McCallum