Notre Dame on the hunt for ancient stones and trees

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in 2019. Image: Alexander Perrien Canva CC0
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in 2019. Image: Alexander Perrien Canva CC0

In Paris, the French authorities are working hard to rebuild the Notre Dame in its original state. However, restoring the burned cathedral to its former glory requires specific materials. Experts are now searching far and wide for fitting stones and centuries-old oaks while time is ticking.

In July 2019 president Emmanuel Macron stated the cathedral would be reconstructed within five years, just in time for the Olympic Games of 2024 in Paris. The French leader stressed that the structure would return to its original state, with original building materials. Experts working on saving the building said the real reconstruction work is not expected to begin until 2022.

Suitable stones

De Standaard reported that the people responsible for the reconstruction are looking for large amounts of ‘esthetical and physically fitting stones.’ The Notre Dame’s original building stones were hauled from Paris’s soil in the 12th and 13th century. They were chunks of a chalk rock formation, that was formed between 41 and 49 million years ago.

In the Paris region, there are still a handful of stone quarries which produce these stones. To find the right materials, the French Bureau for Geology and Mining is researching several of these quarries.

Forestry Heritage

Apart from stones, the Notre Dame’s rebuilding team is looking for 1000 oak trees, aged between 150 and 200 years old. The Guardian reported that the trees must be straight, 50-90cm in diameter and between 8 and 14 metres tall. They will be used to reconstruct the collapsed spire of the cathedral.

The ancient Forêt de Paimpont in Brittany, France is a good place to find old oak trees. Image: jessicahyde (Canva) CC0

Dominique de Villebonne, the deputy director of the National Forests Office, explained: ”This is about ancient forestry heritage. Not 20-year-old trees, but those that are very old, including plantations ordered by former kings to build ships and ensure the grandeur of the French fleet.” Several private forest owners already offered to donate suitable trees to the project.

Source: The Guardian and De Standaard (Dutch)

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