Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry's bombed cathedral crypts discovered

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Media captionIt is thought the crypts were originally used as special burial places for Coventry's nobility

Restoration workers have discovered nine secret crypts hidden under the ruins of Coventry's bombed cathedral.

Work has been taking place after a crack appeared in part of the 14th Century ruins, in September 2011.

It was already known there were two crypts, which were last open to the public in the 1970s.

Dr Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain, which is handling the work, said it was like finding a "subterranean wonderland".

He said it was hoped the crypts could open to the public once they had been damp-proofed and cleared of rubble.

It is thought the crypts were originally used as special burial places for the nobility. Some contain human bones, which are thought to have been cleared from the cemetery which was built on for the new cathedral.

'Fitting burial'

Dr Foyle said the crypts, which span the full area of the old cathedral and are thought to date back to the 1350s, were a highly significant find.

He said: "It's where Coventry's medieval burial grounds were - and at that time it was the fourth greatest city in England in the 14th Century.

"These spaces would have been created to provide a fitting burial for the many thousands of people who contributed to the rise of this city at its peak."

More than £350,000 was spent on repairs to the cathedral ruins in 2010, which was expected to secure the building structurally until 2013.

Fundraising is ongoing to restore more of the cathedral.

In October 2011, the ruins were placed on the World Monuments Fund's Watch List, a catalogue of cultural heritage sites around the globe which are in danger.

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