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Search to solve ancient mystery

PUBLISHED: 14:47 07 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 March 2010

VILLAGERS are hoping the results of a hi-tech survey will solve a medieval mystery – and show them the extent of a 12th century priory.

A team of archaeological experts, consultants for the television programme Time Team, undertook the geophysical survey around the Priory Church of St Mary's, Letheringham, near Woodbridge.

VILLAGERS are hoping the results of a hi-tech survey will solve a medieval mystery – and show them the extent of a 12th century priory.

A team of archaeological experts, consultants for the television programme Time Team, undertook the geophysical survey around the Priory Church of St Mary's, Letheringham, near Woodbridge.

It was hoped the work, which used electrical pulses to detect remains under ground without having to dig up the site, will locate the monk's cloisters and where other important buildings once stood.

George Tomlin , a churchwarden at the Priory Church, said: "We are only a small community so it is great that we can find out more about our local history in this way."

The church, which is open to visitors, is the nave of the original priory church and contains many medieval fragments from tombs, memorials and brasses of the Bovilles and Wingfields, the lords of the manor and patrons of the priory.

Letheringham's small Augustinian Priory was founded by William de Boville around 1194 and dissolved in 1537.

The survey by consultants from GSB Prospection has been funded by the Flyers for Friars project which promotes small-scale heritage sites in east Suffolk. It is funded by the county council and the East of England Development Agency.

Susan Brookes, heritage promotion officer, said: "To the north of the church there are indications of a field boundary which is on the 1884 OS map plus other anomalies which cannot be explained at the moment, possibly buildings.

"To the south of the church there is a strong linear trend about 2-3 metres wide. This is good news as I was not very optimistic that we would find anything in this field at all. This trend could be a path leading to the Priory gatehouse (late 15th/early 16th century in date)."

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