Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges


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Excavations at the Notre-Dame de Bruges Cathedral, in the province of West-Flanders, have unearthed a burial vault.

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Burial vault unearthed in excavation of cemetery of Notre-Dame de Bruges
[Credit: Raakvlak]

The find was announced on Friday by the BAAC Vlaanderen consultancy and the intercommunal archaeological service Raakvlak, which are spearheading the diggings.

Two other vaults, one of them decorated with 14th-century paintings, had already been unearthed in May.

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Skeletal remains in Vault 3 [Credit: Raakvlak]

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Calvary scene at the head of painted burial vault
[Credit: Raakvlak]

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Crucifixion scene in Vault 3 after emergency conservation in situ
[Credit: Raakvlak]

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Sedes sapientiae scene at the foot of painted burial vault
[Credit: Raakvlak]

Medieval burial vault discovered in Bruges
Angel with censer on the long side of burial vault
[Credit: Raakvlak]

This third vault also has paintings, which are not as well conserved but depict similar scenes, such as an angel brandishing an incense burner decorated with crosses and flowers, and a crucifixion scene: Jesus on the cross, with Mary and the apostle John beside him.

The Virgin Mary is depicted on another wall with a child sitting on a throne. Based on these decorations, this vault has been traced back to the 14th Century and is likely older than the two previous ones.

“If we wish to conserve these paintings, all vaults need to be conserved as quickly as possible,” Nico Blontroch, the Brussels alderman in charge of culture, stressed.

“A specialist went there right away to treat the walls,” he added. “Photos will also be taken this week so that a three-dimensional model of the vault can be made.”

Source: The Brussels Times [September 18, 2021]

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