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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Quick work needed at ancient site
A skull found at the site at Hereford County Hospital
Seven skeletons will be removed from the site
Archaeologists have less than a week to complete their work on the site of a mediaeval monastery it took 20 years to locate.

The foundation stones of St Guthlac's Priory, which dates back to the 12th Century, were recently discovered underneath land at Hereford County Hospital.

About 20 skeletons, believed to be of mediaeval monks, were also uncovered.

But archaeologists must complete their research at the site before a new access road through the hospital is built next week.

Quality fragments

Civil engineer Nigel Jones told the BBC's Midlands Today programme how the remains of the former monastery were uncovered.

"At first we thought it might have been a boundary wall but they got in their with their trowels and, after a bit of scratching, they found out it was a stone grave."

Kath Crooks, an archaeologist working on the project, said: "It has been very exciting. Finding it after all this time is really quite good.

"And we're pretty sure that it must be a fairly high status building because of the high quality of the architectural fragments that we found."

Seven of the skeletons that would have been destroyed by the construction of a new drain will be removed from the site.

The remains will be examined and then reburied in consecrated ground.

St Guthlac's Priory was abandoned in the 16th Century during the dissolution of the monasteries.

BBC Midlands Today's Catherine Mackie
"Seven of the skeletons will be removed."

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