GPR survey of a cathedral nave

Phase SI recently carried out a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey inside the nave of a cathedral in Yorkshire to look for graves and tombs.

This was certainly one of the more serene and pleasant places that we have surveyed. Although it was not without its difficulties as the pillars and pews meant that we had to set-out numerous small survey grids and locate each of these grids onto a floor plan of the cathedral. However, using a total station to set-out and tie-in the grids and surveying on a closely spaced survey interval meant that we could cover the majority the cathedral nave.

The GPR survey detected a number of very clear anomalies suggesting the presence of features below the floor slabs. It was thought that many of these could relate to tombs or graves. A number of these responses seemed to overlap and there were several areas where individual responses could not be detected because of very strong general disturbed responses. These areas of disturbance could be associated with material or features from the construction of the cathedral or they could indicate where multiple graves are present which intersect and cut into each other.

The GPR survey was carried out in advance of remediation and repair work within the cathedral and will be used to help target areas where archaeological test pits will be excavated prior to the works being carried out. The survey will help identify any previously unknown features and ensure that no graves or tombs will be disrupted by the repair work.