An archaeological investigation at Furness Abbey in northwest England has uncovered the grave of an abbot, which includes an extremely rare medieval silver-gilt crozier and bejewelled ring.
The grave, which could date back to the 12th century, was uncovered by Oxford Archaeology North, as they were investigated ways to repair the sinking foundations of the ruined abbey. An initial examination of his skeleton, which is currently in the care of Oxford Archaeology North, indicated that he was probably between 40 and 50 years old when he died. Like many monastic burials of middle-aged and older men, he had a pathological condition of the spine often considered to be associated with obesity and mature-onset (Type II) diabetes. Tests will soon be carried out to determine a more exact date of when the abbot died.
The grave was situated in the presbytery, the most prestigious position in the church and generally reserved for the richest benefactors. Most Cistercian abbots were buried in the chapter house.
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