Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Healing 'Chalice'

In 1985, there were plans to build an extension to Healing Church. Because of the historical significance of the site, an archaeological dig had to take place on the site. When they excavated it, they found an interesting 'chalice-like' object, now known as the Healing Chalice.

Firstly, I would like to say a big 'thank you' to Healing SS Peter & Paul Church, for organizing this wonderful event and allowing me to handle the chalice, and to the Friends of Healing Moated Site, for putting on a wonderful show, and several guided walks.

At the recent Healing Heritage Weekend, visitors had the opportunity to see this wonderful artifact. Shown in the New Outlook, the very place where the chalice was found. This was a wonderful opportunity for the local historian.

It was found, in the words of archaeologist Hal Bishop, in a, "small pit which had been dug into a bank of redeposited material, which contained a curious vessel". This was, of course, our chalice.

The word 'chalice' is placed in inverted commas, because that is actually not what this artifact actually is! Later investigations led the archaeologists to believe that this was probably a 'sanctuary lamp', which is a light that is placed or hung before the altar of the church. Below is an artist's representation of what the chalice would look like when it was being used (credit to the archaeologists who excavated the site)

When in use, the chalice would be hung by the loop at the top, and the cross would be at the bottom. The total weight of the lamp is approximately 2500g, and is made of a copper-zinc alloy. The whole object had been given a coat of gesso and then gilded. Archaeologists are unsure about the dating of the object; some suggest it could be early medieval, however, the amount of zinc (30%) suggests a more probable late medieval date.

Thank you once again to the organizers of the Healing Heritage Weekend for putting on  a really memorable event, and to everyone who attended, for their support.


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