Cathedral timbers reveal ancient earthquake secret

PUBLISHED: 14:01 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 13:30 04 May 2010

ANCIENT timbers at Ely Cathedral have revealed that part of the church was destroyed by an earthquake more than 500 years ago. The study of the timber tree rings has shown that repair work took place in the south transept around AD1425. Experts from the N

ANCIENT timbers at Ely Cathedral have revealed that part of the church was destroyed by an earthquake more than 500 years ago.

The study of the timber tree rings has shown that repair work took place in the south transept around AD1425.

Experts from the Nottingham University Tree Ring Dating Laboratory, who carried out the study, also discovered that the oldest known timbers of the cathedral in the west tower turrets date back almost 1,000 years to AD1043-1068.

English Heritage scientific dating specialist, Derek Hamilton, said: "During the 1980s and 1990s, when recording work started, we realised that Ely Cathedral was one of the best preserved monastic complexes in the country. We then commissioned this more comprehensive study, which has not only enhanced our overall understanding of these buildings, but has ultimately provided important evidence for the likely timing of the 15th Century earthquake.

"Our research will help the work of future architects looking after the buildings here. Some of the timbers have already withstood 800 years of wear and tear and hopefully will still be standing 800 years from now.

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