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March 09, 2017, 06:36 PM

Early British salvage yard reclaimed Roman bricks and tiles

By Thornton Kay

South transept of St Albans Abbey [photo cc Gary Houston wikipedia

Hertfordshire, UK - Shortly after the martyrdom by the Romans of Alban, the first recorded British martyr in the third or fourth century AD, a small timber chapel was built on the site in Verulamium - present day St Albans- where he was slain. In 793 Offa, king of Mercia, founded a monastery for Benedictines in honour of, by then, St Alban which became the wealthiest of that order in the kingdom.

At the close of the tenth century the abbots of St Albans, firstly Ealdred and his successor Ealmer, began to reclaim Roman bricks and stone from the ruins of Verulamium for materials to build a new abbey church which was commenced by Paul of Caen in 1077 when he was appointed abbot. Paul adopted the cruciform plan for St Albans which he built on a large scale reusing the materials from the church's own salvage yard.

The church was consecrated in 1115. Of the original Norman church the principal potions now remaining are the eastern bays of the nave, the tower and the transepts. See the photo of the south transept with the original semi-circular headed Roman brick window surrounds. It is thus one of the most important specimens of Norman architecture in England, with the special characteristic that, owing to the use of the flat broad Roman tile, the Norman portions are peculiarly bare and stern.

It is possible to find 2,000 year old Roman brick, tile and stone reclaimed and reused in the rough lime mortars of the walls and foundations of medieval buildings throughout the British Isles, testament to the quality of the original material and knowledge of the medieval builders who reused it.

St Alban is now the patron saint of converts, refugees and torture victims.

A modern day salvage yard exists at nearby London Colney home of Architectural Salvage Source, Salvo Code dealers and Salvo Fair stalwarts, who once again are planning to take a stand at the forthcoming Salvo 2017, June 23rd 25th. The set-up day for the event is June 22nd - St Alban's day.

Architectural Salvage Source

Story Type:  Feature

ID: 99254

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