Saxons and sheep!
The first church on this site was probably built out of wood, for the Norman Lord of the Manor of Bradford, Ilbert De Lacy, in the 11th century. This was later replaced by a stone church which was destroyed by fire, probably by Scottish raiders in 1327.
The church was rebuilt over the next 100 years or so and was completed in 1458. A stone tower was added and finished in 1508. The church and tower became a permanent visual symbol of the presence of Christians in Bradford from this time onward.
Outside Saint Aidan’s Chapel is a collection of archaeological finds, placed here when the Cathedral was extended and renovated in the 1950s and 1960s.
On the left is a fragment of a Saxon cross, dating from about 1, 300 years ago. Next to this is a vessel that may have been used in the original stone church. It looks like it may have been a shallow basin (a piscina or sacrarium) that was placed near the altar, or in the vestry or sacristy. It was used for ablutions (ritual washing) or the washing of the communion vessels.
Finally there is a stone, with a carving that probably dates back to the early medieval period; it depicts a pair of ‘cropper’s’ shears. An indication of the importance of sheep and wool in the Bradford District dating back to the earliest times. In Halifax Minster a similar depiction can be found in the entrance porch on a grave stone dating back to about 1150, so our carving may be even older than we think!