EIU History Professor Featured in Medieval Cathedral Exhibit

Dr. Bailey K. Young is one of the experts (the only one from North America) featured in a special exhibition opening this month in Tournai Cathedral (Belgium), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The exhibition presents to the general public, for the first time, the results of fifteen years (1996-2011) of archaeological study and excavation of one of Europe’s most celebrated medieval cathedrals, in its present form a mixed Romanesque (nave) and Gothic (choir) monument.

The outside of Tournai Cathedral with its Romanesque nave and soaring transept towers (dating to the 12th century), from the busy marketplace

The outside of Tournai Cathedral with its Romanesque nave and soaring transept towers (dating to the 12th century), from the busy marketplace

The excavations by the CRAN (National Archaeological Research Center) of the Université catholique de Louvain  have revealed that it was preceded on the site by six major earlier cathedrals and churches over some eight centuries, the first –an Early Christian basilica– built upon a Late Roman elite residence.  Among the particularly exciting discoveries are a step-in baptismal pool dating to the Carolingian era (ca. 800 A.D.) and the intact tombs of two 11th century bishops, who are well-known in written sources, wearing episcopal garb.

The inside of the Gothic choir (13th century)—this part has been closed to the general public since an earthquake in 2001 led to an ongoing stabilization program, as the scaffolds attest.

The inside of the Gothic choir (13th century)—this part has been closed to the general public since an earthquake in 2001 led to an ongoing stabilization program, as the scaffolds attest.

 

The CRAN is EIU’s partner in the excavation of Walhain Castle, and every year Dr. Young has brought cohorts of students from his Summer Archaeology Program in Belgium to see the progress of these excavations, with a tour by the leading archaeologist.

Dr. Bailey Young with two EIU students from the 2006 group: Jeremy Daly, a Junior History major and Niccole Hurley, a graduated (Honors) major then in our M.A. program.  She went on to get a law degree in St. Louis, where she currently practices.

Dr. Bailey K. Young with two EIU students from the 2006 group: Jeremy Daly, a Junior History major and Niccole Hurley, a graduated (Honors) major then in our M.A. program. She went on to get a law degree in St. Louis, where she currently practices.

Even when the cathedral was closed to the general public for restoration work we got a key for an exclusive visit—indeed, one year we were almost locked in!  Professor Young has also translated the fifteen explanatory panels and photo captions into English, and translated the English summary for the three-volume excavation report just published (2014).  The exhibition will be open throughout the year and into 2015.

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