50 graves were discovered under the Lincoln Cathedral, but they have yet to be identified.
The famed Lincoln Cathedral, in the UK’s East Midlands, began a restoration effort in 2016 that has since turned into a massive archaeological excavation, unearthing some 50 medieval era graves.
The most recent of these to be discovered is a rare example of a medieval priest’s burial site, in which the clergyman was interred with his pewter chalice and paten — the vessels a priest uses to hold the wine and bread that become the blood and body of Christ during the Communion rite.
The unusual presence of these items identifies the buried man as a priest, but also suggests that his parishioners could have considered the priest to have lived an exceptionally pious life.
In an interview with the BBC, Natasha Powers, an archaeologist working at the site, noted: “It tells us he was a priest, a respected figure who was buried with these tools used for communion so that when called to the Last Judgement he could show he had been able to perform the services, including mass, when alive.”
Although the remains were dated between the 12th and 13th century, the cathedral’s records have not led to an identification of the priest. Other artifacts brought to light by the dig were a rare 11th-century coin bearing the face of Edward the Confessor, and a disembodied hand from an ancient statue.
The Vintage News reports that the archaeological effort has also uncovered the remains of Roman structures on the site where they have planned to build a new visitor’s center. This artifacts include an ornate plaster wall, a surprisingly well-preserved incense holder, a Roman spoon, and a small container thought to once contain perfume. Once the excavation is finished, they hope to restore the walls in their entirety.
Although the dig has become an important part of the project, the workers at Lincoln Cathedral have not forgotten the restoration goals. Both efforts are being conducted in tandem, which is rapidly depleting the initial 12 million pounds allotted for the restoration.
Despite this, they expect to continue both projects, as the renovations and new visitors’ center were undertaken with the hope of revitalizing tourist traffic. With nearly 1,000 years of history surrounding Lincoln Cathedral, it’s anyone’s guess what the dedicated experts working at the site will uncover next.