Permanent home found for Furness Abbey's rare crozier and ring

RARE: Curator Susan Harrison with the Furness Abbey crozier

RARE: Curator Susan Harrison with the Furness Abbey crozier

First published in News
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A PERMANENT home for Furness Abbey’s ancient abbot’s crozier will be installed at the site next month.

It will be close to where the rare artefact was discovered in 2010 during archaeological investigations to protect the monastic ruins.

The new display will be the highlight of the abbey’s visitor centre and see the crozier and ring housed in a purpose-built cabinet.

It was made possible through fundraising in the community by the Furness Abbey Fellowship.

The special case is necessary to provide the precise environmental conditions required to ensure the preservation of the precious artefacts. Since its discovery nearly four years ago, the crozier has returned twice to the site on temporary visits.

Susan Harrison, Curator of English Heritage, said: “This is an exciting moment to be returning the crozier and ring to permanent display at Furness Abbey, the place where they were found and to which they belong. These are rare and beautiful artefacts and have revealed new information about the abbey and its community.

“This crozier is not paralleled by any other and its discovery really was an unusual occurrence. These things don’t often come out of the ground and the last major find like this was over 50 years ago.

"It was unusual to find the intact grave so close to the High Altar, an area usually reserved for wealthy patrons. Graves have been disturbed and their covers and effigies removed since the dissolution of Furness Abbey in 1537, but this one remarkably survived undisturbed a metre and a half below the ground.”

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A crozier is the staff of office of an Abbot or Bishop and represents the crook used by the good shepherd to gather his flock. The Furness crook is made of gilded copper alloy and silver.

Of international significance it was found with a gilded silver ring set with a white stone, discovered on the right hand of the abbot. The bezel has a point intruding within the circle of the ring which would have made it uncomfortable to wear and it would have been a constant reminder of vows taken and piety.

The display of the artefacts will be accompanied by a reconstruction drawing of the complete crozier, including a linen and silk cloth, evidence for which was found attached to the crozier remains.

The Abbot himself was between 40 and 50 years old and approximately 5 foot seven inches tall. He was obese and fish had been an important and large part of his rich diet. He was held in high esteem by the monastic community, but his identity is not known. The crozier will be in place from the start of the new season, April 1, when Furness Abbey returns to daily opening.

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