The mysteries of what lay beneath Hereford Cathedral Close are revealed in a new book which was launched in May at College Hall at Hereford Cathedral.
Two of the archaeologists who co-authored the book were on hand at the launch to talk about the discoveries and exhibit some of the finds from the excavations undertaken by Headland Archaeology. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Cathedral Close restoration project provided remarkable insights into the history of the site.
Excavations revealed a possible Saxon Palace built near the cathedral between 850 and 950AD. After the cathedral was plundered and destroyed by fire in 1055, it was rebuilt and over 2,500 individuals were buried around the site between the 11th and 19th centuries. Just over 700 of the better preserved burials were studied in more detail, and the book provides colourful insights to the life of the local population.
“The burials provided some fascinating information on the health and stresses of daily life in the middle ages in Hereford. Some individuals proved to be of particular interest, including the remains of a possible Norman Knight who appeared to have injuries corresponding with tournee or jousting, as well as the unfortunate young person buried beneath the footings of the possible Saxon Palace”, said Andy Boucher, the lead author.
“The Cathedral Close project was such a great success and we were delighted with the work that was done by the contractors, C J Bayliss, under the supervision of Robert Kilgour, the Cathedral Architect”, said the Dean of Hereford, the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor. “In helping to uncover more of the cathedral’s history, we have solved some mysteries, but possibly created some more”, he added.
Publication of the book, Death in the Close: a Medieval Mystery, has been made possible by funding from the Marc Fitch Fund and Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust. The book is for sale at the Cathedral Shop.