The Stones and Bones of Bath Abbey

The Stones and Bones of Bath Abbey

Sunday, May 18, 2014
| 1 Peter 2:2-10

The church at Bath Abbey is in peril unless some dead bones can be successfully removed without causing the building to collapse.

We occasionally hear about troublesome church members who manage to upset their congregations, but the people making trouble for the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Bath, England, aren't current members but those from centuries past. The people causing problems aren't the deadbeats in the pews but the dead bodies in the basement. And they're threatening to upset the church in a quite literal way.

The church, commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an Anglican parish. It was founded as a monastery in the seventh century and has had Christian worship going on at that site ever since. The current building is a Gothic cathedral more than 500 years old, but it sits on the remains of a massive Norman cathedral that predated it.

The problem is that, over the centuries, an estimated 6,000 people have been buried just below the stone flooring of the church. Over time, as those bodies were reduced to bones and as the graves settled, holes opened up beneath the floor, threatening the very ...


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