What work is being undertaken?
During this major conservation work, our team of stonemasons are currently hard at work to replace some of the stones in the centuries-old wall. To do this, our expert team take out stones in a bad condition and chip away at new stones to make them the right shape and size, before securing them into the wall with lime mortar.
Here at Durham Cathedral, maintaining traditional methods of work is very important to us, so this often means working by hand. We also create our own lime mortar onsite, which is often used in historical conservation as it prevents water from becoming trapped inside the wall.
As part of the conservation work, we work hard to ensure that the replacement stones we use are a close match to the original stone in need of repair. We work with a team of experts to match the stones as closely as possible and to help us source them locally.
Why does this work need doing?
During a recent survey of the wall, it became clear that some stones within the wall were either missing, damaged, or had a crack or void behind them. If left unresolved, the stonework within the wall could prove dangerous, so our team began working on this major conservation project.
Some of the rocks within the wall had become delaminated as they were laid incorrectly in the original wall. Imagine a book standing up on its end, rather than resting on its side. Over time, the layer of the rock, or pages of the book, have begun to peel away.
Another problem with the wall is due to the type of cement mortar that was used during an earlier restoration project in the Victorian era. The type used previously isn't breathable so rainwater can get between gaps in the rocks, which can make the wall unstable if it freezes.
How you can help
Conservation work lets us ensure that the cathedral will still be here for future generations to enjoy. There's a lot of work which comes with conserving a building that's almost 1000 years old, as well as a lot of cost.
Donations can contribute to the upkeep of the cathedral, and helps us in our mission to preserve such an iconic site.
The history of the Monks' Garden
The Monks' Garden was originally part of an open area, which became enclosed when the Galilee Chapel was built in the 12th century. The Rites of Durham tells us that this space was used by novice monks in their leisure time as a bowling green.
After the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, the bowling green became a garden for the clergy. Until recent years, the garden remained private and enclosed.
Today, the garden is open to the public and makes a great space for picnics during sunny weather. Whilst the restoration work is ongoing, you can see scaffolding and boarding up alongside the wall, but the garden remains open.
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