Ancient Dam pagoda set for restoration work

Ancient Dam pagoda set for restoration workScientists now have enough reference material to accurately restore the Dam Pagoda, a worshiping place of national importance during the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225) after two years of careful research at the site, according to the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Bac Ninh Province.

Construction of the pagoda was started in 1086 and 10 years later it was officially opened, with 100 rooms covering a total area of 7,200sq.m. It sits in front of Dam Hill overlooking the Duong River and under the Ly dynasty was considered a national worshipping site set in a beautiful landscape.

“Time and wars have destroyed this once-glorious Buddhist site,” said Nguyen Van Phong, director of the department, “The present small pagoda was built by local people on the foundations of the old one, hiding all its historic value under the ground.”

Phong said that in 2011, a thorough study which was conducted by the department along with the Viet Nam Archaeology Institute showed that there were four floors, each one separated by a 5m-thick layer of stone.

The traces of a stone path leading up to the floors are also obvious, as it zigzags its way around the hill side.

Scientists believe that the path was used by pilgrims when climbing up to the pagoda from the foot of the hill.

There are many stone pillars and remains of several towers at the site bearing decorative carvings and patterns particular to the dynasty.

“They would walk under the trees to keep out of the sun, making it easier for them,” he said.

After the encouraging initial results, Phong believes that archaeologists can now draw up plans to restore the pagoda almost identically. However he is still concerned about the tiled roof as nothing of the original remains.

Provincial authorities plan to restore the site by 2020. — VNS