Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 13:03 UK

Ancient timbers restored by sugar

The 11th Century timbers being excavated
The timbers date from the 11th Century

Timbers from three medieval bridges in Leicestershire are being restored after a donation of 40 tonnes of sugar.

The 11th Century timbers were found in Hemington Quarry in 1993 and are being preserved at Snibston Discovery Park.

The wood is immersed in liquid sugar as part of the conservation process. The sugar crystals gradually replace the water in the wood and prevent warping.

The final batch of sugar - donated to the county council by British Sugar - was delivered on Tuesday.

'Rare testament'

It is thought the Norman-era timbers will eventually go on public display when the process is complete.

The artefacts were excavated by a team of archaeological experts from the University of Leicester.

University spokesperson Lynden Cooper said: "The timbers are a rare testament to the engineering skills of the early medieval period and illustrate the importance of the road networks to the economy of the time.

"They also provide unique evidence of Saxo-Norman woodworking methods."


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