Excavation work is taking place in the nave of Bath Abbey to confirm where a new trench for services will go, including for an innovative underfloor eco-heating system using Bath’s hot springs.
Two small archaeological test pits, measuring approximately 1metre ² each, will be dug this week with a further two being excavated next week. Once the investigations have taken place, the pits will be back-filled and the floor stones replaced. SSH Conservation will be lifting the historic ledgerstones and replacing these, while Emery’s and Wessex Archaeology will be carrying out the excavations and investigative work.
The excavations in the nave are part of the Abbey’s Footprint project which has seen the East end of the church closed off for the last 10 months while restoration work to repair the historic floor and to install the eco-heating heating system in this area has been carried out. Building work is also taking place to create new space and improved facilities underground as well as in the adjacent terrace row of houses in Kingston Buildings.
The work in the East end – Phase 1 of Footprint - is due to be completed by June 2019, when the work will move to the North half of the Abbey including the North transept and parts of the nave and crossing.
Alix Gilmer, Footprint Project Director, said: “The reason for excavating in the Nave now rather than waiting until the work in the East end is completed is that we will be embarking on the next phase of the building programme almost immediately. Once the next round of works start, we’ll need to leave this area of the Nave where we are digging the archaeological pits in clear as it will be the main route through the church. It’s essential for us that while the Footprint project takes place, we maintain the worship life of the church, continue to host events, and always try to keep the Abbey open, accessible and hospitable.”
The Footprint project is a £19.3 million programme of restoration, building works and interpretation that will secure the Abbey’s physical future and improve its hospitality, worship and service to the city. Donations to Footprint are being generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 - your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint!