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Dig gives insight into history of Haworth Parish Church
8:00pm Monday 13th August 2012 in News
Fragments of Haworth ’s medieval and Georgian past have been discovered during work to repair the parish church where two of the Bronte sisters are buried.
The initial stage of the project at Haworth Parish Church has involved overhauling the blocked drainage system on the south side of the building.
The repairs provided an opportunity for the first recorded archaeological dig in one of the country’s most historic churchyards.
Archaeologist Dr Angela Redmond, who oversaw the excavations, said discoveries included traces of a 16th-century roofline on the building and three previously unrecorded tombstones, including two which are close to the Bronte family crypt.
The dig also uncovered a halfpenny minted during the reign of King George III in the late 18th century and a medieval cross carved into a wall.
They also found the original flagged entrance to the church that was on the site between 1600 and 1755.
Dr Redmond said: “It was a pleasure and privilege to be involved and the project significantly increased our knowledge of the church and its surroundings.
“It is entirely possible that there has been worship on the site of Haworth Parish Church since AD600. The first reference in writing to the church was in 1197 and again in 1317, when there was a historical reference saying it had been there since ancient times.
“We’ve been excited by these finds and it would add considerably to our knowledge of the church and its people through the ages if we could stage further excavations in the future. There are other features we want to investigate while the scaffolding for the repair work on the church is still in place.”
Haworth Parish Church has succeeded in raising £227,555 to complete the first stage of its three-part, five-year plan to repair, restore and update the church, where Emily and Charlotte Bronte are buried.
An application for funding to repair the north roof, the second stage of the church’s plan, has been lodged with English Heritage.
The Rev Peter Mayo-Smith, the priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, said: “It is incredible to think that in preparing to make our church fit for worship and community use in the 21st century, that we should learn so much about the history of the church and its people.
“Dr Redmond’s finds are fascinating and we hope that she has an opportunity to move her investigations further as the work on the roof and tower progresses.”