Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surprise tomb

After an early visit with another load of junk to the Council's waste disposal centre on Wedal Road through the commuter traffic, I went to the Priory HQ of St John Ambulance to meet Keith Dunn and think through with him what I might be able to do as a member of the Order once I retire from the Parish. I'd like to do something a bit more practical than my present role has permitted. I've been offered the opportunity to do the four day St John First Aider training, so that I can pull my weight as part of any St John's duty team I work with pastorally. My aspiration is to re-engage with those who work on big events at the Millennium stadium. This past few years it's been too taxing to do a Saturday evening event, and then have to rise early and work a whole Sunday. When I'm retired, I can do that, and aim to be recovered fully in time for a noon service at the Cathedral or evening Mass at St Mary's - the best of both worlds.

After the noon Eucharist, Martin our architect and Evan, our PCC secretary and professional archaeologist both arrived to inspect the work on renewing the south churchyard path, which started yesterday, a day later than proposed. The large offending roots of the ash tree that have caused us so many problems over the past decade were exposed. So also was the cause of the root problem. On the east side of the tree, the roots had been unable to grow downwards, due to a large stone slab buried in shallow soil beneath the present level of the churchyard path, so the roots had gone outwards sandwiched between the surface and hidden slabs, causing the upper ones to distort. A little prodding with a mechanical digger revealed fragments of stone slabs beneath the surface, covering a brick vault nobody knew was there. It was 80% filled with soil, perhaps from burials back before the closure of the churchyard in 1855. A little research of old churchyard maps is now in order, to ascertain whose tomb this was.

Was this tomb hidden to those who last re-laid the path, around 1890 after the expansion of the church with north and south aisles? The path was already a century old by then. The brick of this vault is identical to that of its neighbouring vault under the E-W 'alley' from the Market to Queen's Arcade, making it early nineteenth century. The find needs a work around solution from the contractors - not too onerous - but for us, it means a little detective work on the somewhat messy, under-reported history of changes to the church in the nineteenth century.

After this, a brief excursion to Tredegarville School to look at a school admissions dossier and confirm decisions taken by others, then back to Southgate House for another spell of work on data before returning home to meet briefly with Archdeacon Peggy to hand over documents relating to the Cardiff Churches Forum and its defunct successor Cardiff Christian Council, an ecumenical body which died of disinterest during my first year back in Cardiff. There's to be another attempt to revive a city wide ecumenical instrument, as a channel of support for Lightship 2000 and its ecumenical ministry to the city down in the Bay. I hope this has more success than the efforts I was involved with - one of my few disappointments of this job.

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