31/12/2018
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Torch-lit exploration reveals 600-year-old stone carvings at Dunkeld Cathedral

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A routine inspection at Dunkeld Cathedral in Perth & Kinross has uncovered previously unrecorded saint-like figures carved from stone in the 1400s.

The discovery, by members of Historic Environment Scotland's conservation team, within the obscured recesses of the tomb of Bishop Cardeny (which dates from 1420) was followed by a second, more in-depth assessment undertaken using cutting-edge 3D photogrammetric technology. A detailed 3D model was created by obtaining multiple images using cameras and mirrors, enabling a closer look at the carvings which had been previously hidden from direct view.

Bishop Cardeny was the longest serving Bishop of Dunkeld Cathedral, made Bishop by Pope Benedict VIII In 1399. Not unusually, the tomb was created before his death, in this case 17 years before.

The unearthing of these stone carvings has shed new light on the history of the site, revealing that the tomb has at some point been moved and built into the wall from its original free-standing location.

A rare discovery

Colin Muir, Stone Conservator at Historic Environment Scotland, who led the discovery, said: “The discovery of these rare, hidden carvings behind the 15th century tomb of Bishop Cardeny is very exciting, and will enrich our understanding of the history of Dunkeld Cathedral and late medieval stone carving.

“This discovery also gives fresh incentive for further research and exploration of the site, as we still don’t know when exactly the tomb was moved, or why. This discovery also hints that there may still be other obscured areas of detail preserved within the walls behind the tomb.

Conservation works to protect the fabric of the tomb are currently being planned, and we hope to undertake further investigation of what may lie behind it. At this stage we don’t know what, if anything, remains - but it will be fascinating to find out.”

For more on Dunkeld Cathedral, visit Historic Environment Scotland's website.

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