Monday, April 2, 2012

Exeter Cathedral: How do you move 70,000 archives?

Exeter Cathedral is getting ready to open a new centre to keep all its archives in one place. But how do you move thousands of documents, some of which date back to 1050? The Cathedral is home to over 70,000 records stored in various places around the Cathedral.

So the Cathedral has invested 1.5 million pounds in refurbishing the West Wing of the Bishop's Palace to store its archives and run educational programs, an essential investment to preserve the Cathedral's history.

Preserving archival material is now very high-tech with temperature and humidy maintained by electrical equipment and monitored on a daily basis. It is still a huge job to physically move all items and them re-shelve them properly so they can be found and made accessible.

The oldest document in the archives is the Cathedral's Foundation Charter which dates back to 1050, when Edward the Confessor was in charge. The collection officially started in 1072 when the first bishop of Exeter, Hishop Leofric, died and bequeathed 70 books, a bequest which has continued to grow. This will be the first time the archives have been located in one place and able to be accessed by scholars and the public.


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