Work being carried out on the floor of Manchester Cathedral has uncovered crinoid fossils which are 300 million years old.
The cathedral was affected by bombing during the war, which resulted in a new floor being laid. The stone for the floor was cut from Peak District limestone rocks, which were encrusted with the fossilised gems. Now underfloor heating is being installed, the fossils have come to light.
To help to raise the necessary funds to install the underfloor heating, the cathedral is selling pieces of the fossilised stone to the public. Rogers Govender, the Dean of Manchester, said:
“These fossils came from a time in pre-history when the area was at the bottom of the sea. All these sea creatures fossilised over millions of years. They have formed part of the floor in the cathedral for more than forty years and this is a great chance for people to own a little bit of cathedral history.”
The newly renovated building is expected to open in time for Christmas when the underfloor heating is finally installed. Services are currently being held in a temporary building outside of the cathedral. More than 100,000 people visit the building each year, making it one of the top ten tourist attractions in Manchester.
Although crinoids were thought to have died out 251 million years ago, some may be discovered deep down in the oceans today. The sandstone used to create the walls of the cathedral is believed to have come from a Collyhurst quarry, which was formed nearly 300 million years ago.