Tombs of priests found in cathedral

ARCHAEOLOGISTS excavating in the transept of Lincoln Cathedral have discovered a series of medieval priestly tombs.

Under paving slabs facing the choir, the remains of six priests have been uncovered - including two who were buried with items of communion plate.

One had been interred with a chalice 7 inches (17.7cm) high. The other - originally wrapped in a shroud made partially of silver thread - had a salver 5 inches (12.7cm) in diameter buried with him. Both the communion wine chalice and the salver (for communion bread) were made of pewter - the use of silver-plate in burials was banned after 1225 to save money.

The excavation, directed by Lisa Donel, of Lincoln City Archaeological Unit, has revealed that a third priest was buried wearing his shoes, highly fashionable medieval examples, complete with pointed, curled-up tips.

Only 80 graves are recorded as lying under Lincoln Cathedral's nave and transept floors. However, the cathedral's consultant archaeologist, Dr Lawrence Butler of the University of York, estimates there are a further 120 and that 40 occupy the intersection area where the transept traverses the nave. It was a particularly sought-after location because, before Mass, the bishop's procession would pause at the intersection to recite a memorial psalm.

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