Sunday 20 January 2008

Limestone angel on display was buried for 1,000 years

AN ANGLO-SAXON carving of an angel unearthed at Lichfield Cathedral was hailed yesterday as the most important discovery of its type since the 19th century.

The 8th-century limestone panel retains much of its painted decoration, thanks to having been buried for more than a millennium. It is believed by archaeologists to have been part of the shrine of St Chad, Bishop of the Mercians, and an integral part of the Saxon church that lies under the cathedral.

St Chad’s remains were reburied in the church in the late 7th to early 8th centuries. According to the historian Bede, writing in the century after Chad’s death, his tomb became a place of pilgrimage because miracles took place there.

The carving, painted in strong colours, is thought to be one of the ends of a shrine chest depicting the Annunciation. Some of the angel’s feathers are in a gradation of tones from dark red to a pale pink.

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