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Church repairs uncover heritage
Fragments of Haworth’s medieval and Georgian past have come to the surface during work to repair the village parish church’s roof and tower.
The initial stage of the project involved overhauling the church’s blocked drainage system on the south side of the building.
The repairs provided an opportunity for the first-ever recorded archaeological dig in one of the country’s most historic churchyards.
Archaeologist Dr Angela Redmond oversaw the excavations and said the team had made some interesting finds.
She said: “It was a pleasure and privilege to be involved and the project significantly increased our knowledge of the church and its surroundings.”
She said discoveries included traces of a 16th-century roofline on the building and three previously unrecorded tombstones, including two which are very close to the Brontë family crypt.
The diggers uncovered a halfpenny minted during the reign of King George III in the late 18th century, discovered a medieval cross carved into a wall and found the original flagged entrance to the church that was on the site between 1600 and 1755.
Dr Redmond said: “It is entirely possible that there has been worship on the site of Haworth Parish Church since AD 600. The first reference in writing to the church was in 1197 and again in 1317 when there was a historical reference saying it had been there since ‘ancient times’.
“We’ve been excited by these finds and it would add considerably to our knowledge of the church and its people through the ages if we could stage further excavations in the future.
“There are other features we want to investigate while the scaffolding for the repair work on the church is still in place.”
The Rev Peter Mayo-Smith, the priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, said: “It is incredible to think that in preparing to make our church fit for worship and community use in the 21st century that we should learn so much about the history of the church and its people.”