Replacing stones on the North West Turret
This carving that you can see in the project video is located about half way up the North West Turret. It was carved by one of our expert stone masons. The carving was sponsored by the Lincoln Cathedral Needlework Guild.
As much as possible we try to leave the original stones on the Cathedral. Where we can the stones are cleaned and if necessary they are remortared into place using a lime based mortar. There's something very beautiful about the worn down carvings made by skilled craftsmen hundreds of years ago. It adds a personal history to an already historic building.
However, due to poor repairs in the past, the use of improper materials (like concrete) as well as weathering and just natural ageing, some of the stones need to be replaced because they are structually unstable or at risk of falling off and causing injury or damage. When stones need to be replaced we do our best to maintain the integrity and beauty of this fantastic building. The process for replacing the stones is as follows:
Templates are taken from the original stones and full size drawings are made. Full size block measurements are sent down to our quarry on Riseholme Road north of Lincoln and sawn on six sides from the rough quarry block. The stone is worked using the templates from the original stones. Archstone, stringcourse, capitals, columns and many other types of stone are worked by hand to an accuracy of 1mm.
The tools used have not changed in shape, but have changed in material: chisels made from tungsten steel rather than fire-sharpened metal, nylon mallets instead of wooden ones, tools run on compressed air and machine saws are the modern mason’s tools. When stones are finished, they are transported to the Cathedral and hoisted up the scaffold using compressed air hoists or electric goods lifts. Old stone is cut out and the new stone fixed using lime putty mortar.
Sometimes brand new carvings are made, this gives our stone masons the chance to add their own personal touches to Lincoln Cathedral and expand the legacy of the building. New carvings in recent years have included a jubilee crown, fox hunting carvings and a carving of Nelson Mandela.
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