15th century manuscript among hidden treasures at British manor house

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Aug. 20 (UPI) -- An archaeologist working at a British manor house undergoing renovations made hidden discoveries including a 15th century manuscript fragment and an intact Tudor-era book.

Britain's National Trust said archaeologist Matthew Champion was working at Oxburgh Hall in Oxborough, England, a moated house that once belonged to multiple generations of the Bedingfeld family before becoming a tourist attraction.


Champion was mostly working alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was analyzing debris uncovered by a recent restoration project when he identified items including the 600-year-old manuscript fragment and a 1568 book titled King's Psalms.

The manuscript fragment, discovered in the rubble of one of the home's eaves, appears to be part of a Psalm written out in Latin, officials said.

The King's Psalms book, found in the house's attic, is one of only two copies known to exist, with the other being held at the British Library.

Champion also found two large rats' nests under the floorboards, pieces of textile, fragments of early music, pieces from early printed pages and handwritten documents.

"We had hoped to learn more of the history of the house during the re-roofing work and have commissioned paint analysis, wallpaper research, and building and historic graffiti recording," said Russell Clement, general manager at Oxburgh Hall. "But these finds are far beyond anything we expected to see."


He said the discoveries offer a window into the lives of the house's former occupants.

"These objects contain so many clues, which confirm the history of the house as the retreat of a devout Catholic family, who retained their faith across the centuries," Clement said. "We will be telling the story of the family and these finds in the house, now we have reopened again following lockdown."

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