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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Minster gets set to open doors on major new visitor attraction

York Minster and statue of influential Constantine
who shaped the city's history and spiritual reach.
The countdown is under way for the opening of a new visitor attraction at York Minster.

From Saturday 25 May, Revealing York Minster, the largest set within a cathedral in the UK, tells the story of the last 2000 years at the historic site, from the Romans to its modern day custodians.

The contemporary chambers of the Undercroft are built in a space created in emergency excavations during the 1970s which uncovered a hidden history of the site, including the remains of a Roman barracks, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and the foundations of the Norman Minster – the forerunner of the present cathedral.

The new attraction weaves the story revealed by these discoveries into an immersive and interactive journey through two millennia of York’s history, featuring artefacts never before on public display.  Visitors will be a

Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: "York Minster has stood at the heart of the city for centuries, but even before that, this site was instrumental in the growth of York, from a military barracks into a major conurbation.

"This means that the land upon which the cathedral now stands has been a centre – military, political, social and theological – for that whole time, influencing not only regional but national history.”

Key aspects of York’s dramatic history covered in the new attraction include:

The Romans (71 to approx. 410AD): from the first establishment of a barracks at the site, to Constantine the Great, who ruled the Roman Empire from York, and made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.

The Anglian and Anglo-Saxon periods (around 410 to 866AD) which followed the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain: it is one of the least understood periods in British history.

The Vikings, who arrived in York in 866:

The late Saxon and early Norman period, when the first stone Minster was built: with the foundations of the Norman Minster still visible within the Undercroft, a fascinating illuminated manuscript known as the York Gospels will be on public display for the first time.

The present day, when York Minster is not only a working place of worship but regarded as cultural masterpiece inspired by faith; a 21st century Church and international icon

• The Treasury — one of the original, medieval underground chambers, which houses many of the ceremonial items collected over the centuries for use in services.

Project director Mark Hosea said: “This is a place visited by kings and queens for centuries, and the work being done within the cathedral today – whether looking after worshippers or conserving priceless stained glass – ensures that time never stands still here.

"The process of bringing together all this information about York Minster has itself created a new legacy for future generations recorded in minute detail, whilst the conservation work taking place all around the building, on the Great East Window and on the masonry, will ensure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can continue to enjoy this magnificent building.”

Revealing York Minster is the latest part to be completed of the £20 million York Minster Revealed project, a five-year project supported by a £10.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which incorporates the largest restoration and conservation project of its kind in the UK.

The 108 restored panels from the Great East Window will be reinstalled by the summer of 2016.

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