Thursday, May 14, 2009

Local craftsmen to work on Lindisfarne Priory

Local craftsmen from North Shields have been commissioned by English Heritage to save one of the nation’s most important Anglo-Saxon sites from the harsh effects of the weather. Local materials and expertise have been combined to secure Lindisfarne Priory, a place of pilgrimage for more than 1300 years, from further decay.

Lindisfarne Priory is one of the nation’s favourite historic sites. It is situated on Holy Island, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year. The Priory’s dramatic position on the isolated island leaves it exposed to the trials of the weather. Over the years this has resulted in the decay of evocative carved and decorated stonework. However, using Northumberland quarried stone, the local craftsmen have now carried out vital work to protect the Priory from further weather damage.

Ray Stockdale, English Heritage Technical Manager said, “During the early 1920s a process using cement was carried out on the masonry at the Priory. The cement retained rainwater which resulted in an accelerated weathering process. By cutting out and replacing the cement with a more traditional lime mortar, we are allowing an escape route for the rainwater and returning the masonry back to its original condition. This is essential work to reduce the rate of decay, it also emphasises English Heritage’s continued support for traditional building skills as part of the North East Heritage Skills Initiative.

Kevin Dunn, Stonemason Supervisor for Historic Property Restoration, North Shields, said : “This was a really interesting project. We used local red sandstone from the nearby Doddington quarry. It is awe-inspiring to be working on a historic structure that was built all those years ago and is still standing as a national icon.”

English Heritage Project Manager, Steve Garland said, “The Priory is exposed to the worst of the wind and rain which, along with other weathering processes, all contribute towards damage to the masonry work. Repair work has now been carried out to some of the architectural features of the priory. This is the first phase of a long term consolidation process focusing on securing the future of Lindisfarne Priory by using the skills and materials right on its doorstep.”