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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 13:54 GMT
Cathedral bird headless in storm
The weather vane stands 190ft from the ground.

A headless bird has caused a bit of a flap at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff after the spire's golden weather vane was hit by lightning.

The 23 carat gold-coated griffin was decapitated when the bolt hit the top of the 190ft-tall Victorian Prichard Tower during storms this week.

It has faced repair before after a lightning strike in 2003.

"Although it wasn't decapitated that time - it did lose its gold coat," said cathedral administrator Michael Turk.

Experts are working out the best way to repair it.

Mr Turk explained: "The first we knew the cathedral has been affected by lightning was when all the alarms were activated at around twenty past five in the morning.

"When I came in at eight o'clock, I could see the griffin was missing its head.

"I eventually found it in the grounds."

It appears the lightning directly hit the cathedral, with witnesses reporting seeing flames going along telephone cables.

The griffin's head (picture by Head Virger at the cathedral, Ian Beesley)
The griffin's head broke off the body after it was hit by lightning

"There is quite a lot of damage to the electricity in the cathedral but luckily not structurally because we have a lightning conductor on the building," said Mr Turk.

The cathedral's weather vane has now suffered the curse of being hit twice by lightning in recent years, after it was damaged in 2003.

Mr Turk said: "It was brought down and repaired and put back up in about 2005 - I wasn't expecting to see it down again for about 25 years."

Experts are now examining the head to see if it can be re-attached to the griffin, whose body is still on the top of the cathedral.

"I don't know what they are going to do yet - it is quite badly bashed on one side," said Mr Turk.

"The griffin looks quite tiny from the ground, but it is actually about 3ft high and it is on the tallest point of the cathedral.

"Luckily the repairs will be covered by insurance," he added.

Skeletons found at cathedral
06 Nov 03 |  South East Wales

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