A SCULPTOR from Cirencester has designed, carved, painted and installed seven new stone statues into a well-known British cathedral.

The immense project, featuring seven statues of Christian martyrs, was taken on by local artist Rory Young five years ago and has finally come to an end.

Seven new painted stone statues have been installed in the medieval niches in the nave screen at St Albans Cathedral. This is a rare occurrence, as the last painted figures placed in a church screen were put there before the Reformation and the English civil war.

During the five years Mr Young has worked closely with the dean of the cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John who said he was delighted that the long-awaited project had reached fruition.

"Rory Young’s research has been meticulous and his workmanship of tremendous quality," he said. "The statues are a fine contemporary reworking of a medieval tradition. The installation was only completed on April 24, but the statues fit and blend in so well; it feels as if they have been here for centuries. The recent saints remind us that there are Christian martyrs in every age – probably more now than there have been for many years – and inspire us to be braver ourselves in standing up for what we believe."

Artist Mr Young said: "It was a huge privilege to win this commission and to actually work on the fabric of the building in preparation for installing the statues. It has been incredibly humbling to attempt to portray these Christian heroes."

The seven martyrs are a gift to St Alban's Cathedral from Richard and Susan Walduck, long-time friends of the cathedral.

The statues will be formally dedicated later in the year but are on view at cathedral. Entry is free. Visit stalbanscathedral.org for opening times and directions.