Into the voids

Seems the voids that have been discovered under Bath Abbey – during a trial excavation along 50 square metres of the north aisle – are proving to be much bigger than was expected and the situation is likely to be repeated across the rest of the church floor.P1060169

That’s what l was hearing from Footprint Project Director Charles Curnock on a tour of the site.

The red patches are voids!
The red patches are voids!

Ground radar images really do illustrate the problem but – before we talked about the work to remedy the situation – l asked Charles to set the record straight about the integrity of the Abbey building itself.

Was it in danger of falling down? It seems most definitely not!

(Apologies for the poor sound. It was a very noisy site)

It’s not the walls but the floor that is at risk from subsidence. It’s now reckoned that around six thousand people have been buried under the floor and – over the years – voids have opened up.

A small void on the left of the picture.
A small void on the left of the picture.

Here is an illustration of just a small example of what lurks beneath our feet.

With the pockets located it’s a question of careful drilling to provide a channel for filling them.

Some people may remember the voids created under parts of Combe Down – created by stone quarrying – and the thousands of tons of material needed to fill them.

The work that is being done is giving one lady an opportunity of really examining what lies beneath – in terms of Tudor and Norman material.( Again apologies for the noisy recording)

Human remains – as we hear – will be re-interred once the work is completed but some finds will stay on the surface.

Several decorative coffin labels have been located – including one in the name of this man – James Anderson – whose memorial tablet looks down upon this space from the Abbey’s north wall.P1060184

They may be put on display and, perhaps, someone could do some research on Mr Anderson to discover if he has descendants who are still living in these parts.