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Story behind the Hemington Quarry bridge in Leicestershire
Remains of Hemington Quarry bridge
"The timbers provide unique evidence of Saxo-Norman woodworking methods"

For centuries the remains of a medieval bridge over the old course of the River Trent in Hemington lay covered in water logged sand and gravel.

Having been swept away on at least three occasions, it is remarkable that much of the timber and stonework has remained intact.

It is a unique survival.

After archaeologists recovered Hemington bridge in 1993, it has been being looked after with a view to putting it on display.

The timbers were first discovered by a retired Leicestershire GP, the late Chris Salisbury, in 1993.

Since then a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester have studied and excavate the site. Sections of the 11th century bridge were so large that they had to be lifted by eight people and moved by machinery.

Following their excavation, these nationally important timbers have been undergoing an innovative conservation process.

Over the past 16 years, the bridge timbers have been immersed in a sugar solution generously supplied by British Sugar. Since 1993 the company has delivered around 70 tonnes of liquid sugar to Leicestershire County Council, free of charge, to undertake this process.

Remains of Hemington Quarry bridge
The timbers are a rare testament to the engineering skills of the early medieval period
Lynden Cooper, Archaeologist

Earlier in 2010, the timbers were moved to a drying chamber for the final stages of the conservation process at Snibston Discovery Museum.

University of Leicester archaeologist Lynden Cooper says the timbers are an excellent window into the 11th century world.

"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.

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

Once restoration is complete, the timbers - part of the largest medieval wooden structure in the region, after Lincoln Cathedral's roof - could be put on display.

County councillor Ernie White, cabinet member for community services, said: "It's amazing to think that timbers from a Norman bridge are being preserved with sugar - and that they could eventually be displayed to the public."

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