Tavistock - Summer 1997 - Balloons and Tombs

Here are some pictures from Tavistock's Balloon Fiesta - 24th to 26th May 1997, and one.of the last resting place of a medieval Abbot of Tavistock, recently discovered during road works in the town centre.
Click on the pix to see them full size (35k and 28k respectively)
Balloon closeup - 35k Balloon panorama - 28k Balloons ... 11th Century tomb - 73k ... and a tomb

Balloons '97

This year's Balloon Fiesta, organised as always by the Tavistock Lions, ran during the holday weekend of 24th to 26th May. I took these pictures rather early on the morning of Monday 26 May. The launch was from the grounds of Tavistock College at Crowndale, near the birthplace of Sir Francis Drake. What Sir Francis would have made of hot air balloons, who can say?

Click here for 1998 pictures.


The Abbot's Tomb

For the fifth year in a row, Tavistock has suffered from seasonal road-digging - always the summer season. 1997 has been particularly grim, because not only have the County Council been remodelling Duke Street, but the water company has begun overhauling the sewerage system. To be fair, the latter has been long awaited, and is more welcome than the former, but it is an additional disruption to traffic, and there is some feeling that the town could do with a rest from it for a few years.

That said, the sewerage works uncovered a remarkable archaeological "find". It has long been suspected that the present-day main square conceals a very old burial ground, associated with the former Tavistock Abbey, dissolved by Henry VIII in the 16th century. It was not entirely unexpected, therefore, to come across some very old bones during the excavation to lay new drainage pipes under Bedford Square. It was more than the archaeologists had hoped for, though, to find them enclosed in very up-market stone coffins, complete with pillow-stones, carved from locally quarried Hurdwick stone (see picture). Altogether, three coffins were unearthed.
The skeletons and a small number of artefacts, notably pewter chalices, buried with the bodies, have been removed for the attention of the county arcaeologists, and the work of renewing the town drains continues. Preliminary expert opinion is that such a style of burial, close to if not actually beneath the High Altar of the former Abbey, must be associated with very senior people, and this grave is likely to have been that of the Abbot himself. No doubt we shall hear more in due course and we hope that the artefacts will eventually be returned to the town.

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Updated 30 June 1997. Link to 1998 Balloon Fiesta added 23 May 1998.