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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Medieval treasure found in Barrow

RARE items belonging to a 12th century abbot have been discovered at Furness Abbey.

A medieval silver-gilt crozier – a staff of office, and a bejewelled ring were unearthed during emergency repairs to the ruins of Furness Abbey.

The items were found in the undisturbed grave of an abbot, believed to have been buried in the 1150s, which was discovered during excavation work on the walls of the Cistercian abbey.

Initial tests on the skeleton have revealed the abbot, who was aged between 40 and 50 when he died, had a spine condition often associated with obesity and mature-onset (Type II) diabetes.

The grave was situated in the presbytery, the most prestigious position in the church and generally reserved for the richest benefactors.

Most Cistercian abbots were buried in the chapter house.

The crozier is decorated with gilded silver medallions showing the Archangel Michael defeating a dragon.

“The ring is gilded silver and set with a gemstone of a white rock crystal or white sapphire, and may contain a relic, part of the body of a saint or a venerated person.”

Kevin Booth, senior curator at English Heritage, said: “This is a very rare find which underlines the Abbey’s status as one of the great power bases of the Middle Ages.

“While we don’t yet know the identity of the abbot, he was clearly someone important and respected by the monastic community.

“Given that the crozier and ring have been buried for over 500 years, they are in remarkable condition.”

The monastery at Furness Abbey was originally located at Tulketh, near Preston, but the monks moved to Barrow in 1127.

English Heritage has installed a temporary steel frame to support the abbey’s cracking walls and over the next few years, the structure will be underpinned to safeguard its future.

The finds will go on display at the abbey over the Bank Holiday weekend from May 4 to 7.

Have your say

As my husband Dan says,this is wonderful news for Barrow,portraying the town in a positive light for once in highlighting one of its hidden gems in the form of its Abbey.To me it underlines that Barrow is without doubt the capital of Furness and is firmly on the map in terms of its strategic importance in employment and commerce to the rest of Furness,I suppose this is why a a lot of outsiders associate the Wildlife Park with Barrow rather than Dalton,which is a shame really,but never mind.

Posted by Danielle. on 23 April 2012 at 11:20

This is so wonderful for Barrow,even made it onto the tv news as well.

Posted by Dan on 22 April 2012 at 16:25

View all 13 comments on this article

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