Archaeologists hoping to uncover more remains of medieval priory in Northumberland

Some of the priory's substantial foundations have been uncovered.
Some of the priory's substantial foundations have been uncovered.

Village archaeologists are back in action trying to uncover more of a medieval priory in Northumberland which was last seen 500 years ago.

Residents from Holystone are digging for 10 days, hoping to trace more remains of the priory which they first uncovered last year.

A kitchen range, complete with family-sized cauldron, has been unearthed from the Victorian cottages which were built on top of the original priory buildings.

A kitchen range, complete with family-sized cauldron, has been unearthed from the Victorian cottages which were built on top of the original priory buildings.

The Holystone History & Archaeology Group has been awarded grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Northumberland National Park and the Coquetdale Community Archaeology Group to fund their efforts at further discovery.

The group has spent years trying to pinpoint the exact whereabouts of the priory which existed from the 12th century until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. But following a ground penetrating radar scan last year by local firm, DeepScan, the group finally knew exactly where to dig and the first foundations were uncovered.

During the current dig, the group has already made some interesting discoveries. More of the medieval foundation walls have started to appear with some flooring as well. But the diggers have first had to dig through later remains of 18th century small dwellings which fell out of use by the early 20th century – and here they've found a complete kitchen range, including the family cauldron still in place.

The dig has again proved very popular with about 15 to 20 local diggers turning up everyday, plus many more visitors. The group is led by Richard Carlton, of Newcastle’s Archaeological Practice, who is delighted with the success so far.

He said: "Once again the whole community has joined in uncovering their village’s past important history. We've had everyone working here from nine-year-olds to 85-year-olds – and they're finding parts of their village dating back to the 12th century, as well as the more recent cottage remains. We now hope to chart all the priory building remains, including those bits reused around the village in garden walls so that we can pull together a sketch impression of the scale of the original building. It's a very exciting project with different findings changing our perceptions everyday."

The team will continue digging until Saturday when the whole site will be re-covered once again to preserve it.