A TILE believed to date back to the 13th Century has been discovered in the grounds of an Abergavenny church.

The fragment of a terracotta-coloured tile which is no bigger than the size of a hand, was found during a test dig on the north side of St Mary’s Priory Church.

The work is being carried out on the north side of the church ahead in preparation to lower the ground level immediately outside the Lewis Chapel. The test dig is being overseen by resident archaeologist Dr George Nash.

The chapel is named after Dr David Lewis, a Fellow of All Souls College Oxford in 1541, who is buried beneath a tomb that he had commissioned.

Canon Mark Soady, Vicar of St Mary’s Priory Church, explained that because the chapel is below ground, lowering the ground level outside the building will reduce damp inside the wall of the chapel and protect the tomb.

Canon Mark Soady, Vicar of St Mary’s, said it is an exciting find.

He said: “We do find remnants of this kind during such work but it is always exciting when you find one.”

“The building has gone through so many changes over its thousand years of existence but we suspect that every time it is changed the rubble is used to fill holes outside the church.”

Fr Mark added: “We have another two days of digging and are hopeful that we might find more.”

He said that remnants of 17th and 18th Century pottery have previously been found but that this is the most exciting find.

“We have found items older than this and have displays of our finds for visitors ranging from early Medieval fish bones to oyster shells, from the fish farm on the River Fenni, that were the staple diet of the monks.”

The tile will now be sent away to have its age verified.