Stones and other historic bric-a-brac have slowly accumulated in the Lapidarium over the past 30 years, to the point that it is now difficult to navigate the small alleyways between the stones. Many fragments were discovered from the cloisters during the archaeological excavations and construction works in 2014 for the Hidden Treasures, Fresh Expressions project. Stones are routinely unearthed by the gardeners, or else found to have been reused as garden features at some point in the past. Today the collection comprises over 400 stones ranging in date from the eighth to the nineteenth centuries. In 2018 it was decided to move the stone contents of the Lapidarium to the room opposite this, above the South Quire Transept. This room offers more space for shelving and the move accessible room on the north could then be used the store archive material.
During the course of moving stones to the new Lapidarium it was decided to place some of the finest fragments and other medieval treasures in the cathedral’s collection on exhibition in the crypt. This exhibition opens in February 2019 and will be the first time that most of these items have ever been accessible to the public. The exhibition also features a presentation on recent researches at the cathedral that are providing the context to better understand these artefacts. The foundations of the east range of the Early Norman cloisters were discovered in a radar survey at the beginning of 2018. The form of the east end of the late eleventh-century building was confirmed in excavations in 2014. A virtual 3D model of the locations of over 4,000 twelfth and thirteenth-century masons’ marks was completed at the beginning of this year (right). This extensive sequence has been used to understand the construction history of the building in the twelfth century.
Rochester Cathedral Research Guild