What's under Leicester Cathedral?
6th April, 2023

A painstaking archaeological dig conducted as part of the construction of a new basement beneath the Cathedral graveyard has revealed a Roman shrine in what was likely part of a Roman house on the site. Besides the altar stone, the team also discovered more than 1,100 burials, ranging from the 11th century to the mid-19th century.

The project, designed with architects van Heyningen and Haward, will also feature a Visitors Centre that complies with Passivhaus standards.

The P&M engineering team has been working on re-ordering the cathedral's interior, removing the Victorian concrete slab and replacing it with breathable limecrete. The use of limecrete allows moisture to travel through the floor of the church, whereas concrete is impermeable, driving the moisture through the walls and piers of the church. This leads to the gradual erosion of the wall and pier masonry.

In older buildings with solid masonry walls, moisture can become trapped – cement pointing on the outside of the walls stops moisture travelling through the mortar joints and causes failure (spalling) of the bricks over time. The Victorians installed concrete slabs in many churches, to try to counteract wonky church floors that were laid on old burial ground. Although the long-term performance of limecrete slabs is still being studied, as they are a relatively modern invention, its use certainly has a beneficial effect on wall and pier masonry, and a lower embodied carbon content than a concrete slab.

Read more about the dig on the BBC and on LeicesterCathedral.org