The Times, August 16th, ran a story on Bath Abbey, and building renovations designed to repair subsidence and install underfloor heating at the same time. The work, in the south transept, has found significant voids, formerly filled with bodies interned directly beneath the floor. In places the only thing holding up the floor are 'grave ledges' – large slabs marking the spot where somebody was laid to rest (so to speak).
Charles Curnock, director of the Footprint Project, said archaeologists had informed him we'd find the walls of the Norman cathedral and we could fix concrete and steel beams to support the new floor. When they dug down they found the stone from the wall had been robbed (reused elsewhere) and there was nothing there – just fresh air beneath the main pillars. In addition, restoration work in the 19th century came across so many bones they used them as infill. They broke up the bones and spread them around in an attempt to consolidate the floor. It seems it worked as the floor did not collapse in the intervening period and it seems weird that the bones of the great and the good (or those with deep pockets), from all over Britain and the Empire, was propping up a floor without anyone knowing. These people arrived in Bath to partake of the waters, hoping they would cure an affliction of some kind. When they snuffed it they were buried in the abbey – with an appropriate charge involved. One of those buried was Thomas 'Gloomy' Malthus, the original Malthusian. He thought the world was overpopulated in the 18th century – what would he think now? He is of course the darling of a lot of CAGW people who are 'greatly alarmed' by the rising human population of the Earth – a motley crowd of doom mongers. I like his nickname – 'gloomy'. How apt.