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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Hundreds queue up to see Furness Abbey artifacts

THE first public display of priceless treasure unearthed at Furness Abbey exceeded all expectations – after more than 1,500 people visited over four days.

The copper gilded crozier and gemstone ring, which could date back to the 12th century, were discovered in the grave of an unknown monk at the abbey in late 2010.

Furness Abbey site manager Lucy Ronald said organisers were thrilled at the extent to which the artifacts had captured the public’s imagination.

“It’s been brilliant – a real buzz,” she said.

“Everybody’s been really positive and it’s generated a lot of interest.

“Even though I was anticipating it being busy, I could never have anticipated it being quite this busy.”

Miss Ronald said confirmation that the crozier, which depicts Archangel Michael slaying a dragon, would return to the abbey after it had undergone further study was a boost for local tourism.

“We’re really looking forward to that if and when that occurs,” she said. “We’ve had an awful lot of local residents who really feel strongly about the abbey and are loving the fact that there’s something new and exciting.

“We’ve also had a lot of people who have a connection to the area that have come sometimes huge distances for the opportunity just to see these interesting finds.”

Meanwhile, the identity of the mystery monk found in the grave with the crozier and ring might become clearer when the results of carbon dating are released at the end of the month.

Archaeologists believe the abbot could be one of 38 who served at the abbey, which was once the second richest Cistercian site in the country.

The items and the abbot’s grave were unearthed during an £850,000 repair project carried out by English Heritage, which owns the site.

The work is being carried out to stop the ruined abbey sinking into the soft ground.

This follows inspections which revealed serious cracks in the walls. Medieval masons used large pieces of oak in the foundations and this timber is now gradually giving way.

Have your say

So happy they are doing something to save the Abbey. Spent many days at or near the Abbey when younger. Will look forward to what they discover about the monk. What about the tunnel that went from the Abbey to Rowe Island? I suppose by now there is no sign it was even there.

Posted by Pat Bryant on 10 May 2012 at 13:05

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