There were a few tense moments at Peterborough Cathedral on Monday (6th June) when three ancient stones were winched over 30 feet down into the Nave.
The stone fragments, which are believed to have been stored up on the Triforium of the Cathedral for over 120 years, are being lowered so that they can be cleaned and conserved before being put on show in the new Visitor and Learning Centre in the Precincts.
One of the oldest stones from the Cathedral site, a Roman inscription thought to date from the 2nd century, is amongst the pieces that came down. The others included a 10th century grave cover with a cross and interlaced decoration, in two pieces, and a rare fragment of the 14th century painted altar screen. The altar screen was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1643 and was thought completely lost until a few remnants were discovered in 1888 during building works to underpin the North Transept.
Some of the pieces of stone will be taken to the workshop of the stone conservators, Skillingtons, and some will be worked on in the north aisle of the Cathedral during the next few days.
It is a busy time for Dr Jackie Hall, the Cathedral Archaeologist, who was on hand to supervise the moving of the stones. She is also preparing for the community archaeology dig in the Cathedral grounds, which starts on 22nd June. For details of this, the free 3.00pm talks during the dig, and the evening lectures by leading archaeologists, please visit the Cathedral website at www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/home/get-digging.aspx
Both the Visitor and Learning Centre and the community archaeological dig are supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.