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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 00:57 GMT
Treasures of 'Harry Potter' sewer
Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
The abbey is now owned and run by the National Trust
The archaeological excavation of an ancient sewer at a medieval nunnery used as a setting in the Harry Potter films has revealed a host of treasures.

The aim of the work on the drain at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire was to understand modern-day problems with damp at the historic building.

Instead experts discovered bronze "wimple" pins, shears, a lead flask and a 14th Century book clasp.

The items are all being conserved and may go on display at the house.

The drain structure is approximately 49ft (15m) long, 19ft 8in (6m) high and 3ft 3in (1m) wide and runs directly beneath the abbey, alongside the north wall of the east range.

It originally served the lavatories in the 13th century nunnery, and would have run off into the river.

But it is believed to have been filled in with building waste in the 16th century when the abbey was bought by William Sharrington following the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

What was viewed as rubbish in the 16th century is of great interest to us in the 21st century
Jane Harcourt
Archaeologist

David Formby, National Trust custodian of the abbey, said: "We undertook these excavations to ease problems of rising damp in the building by undoing the work of Sharrington's 16th century builders, who used the drain as we do a skip.

"We hope that the excavation will aid the lowering of the ground water level within the building and reduce the degree of rising damp."

Archaeologist Jane Harcourt said: "What was viewed as rubbish in the 16th century is of great interest to us in the 21st century as it gives us clues about life at the time."

Lacock Abbey is famous as the 19th century home of photographic pioneer William Henry Fox-Talbot, who immortalised the building in some of the earliest photographs.

In more recent times, its medieval cloisters have provided the setting for scenes from a number of the Harry Potter films.


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