Culvert probe may shed new light on Lewes Priory

drain SUS-140624-143159001
drain SUS-140624-143159001

An investigation of a medieval drainage culvert at the Priory of St Pancras in Lewes was launched on Friday.

It was carried out by archaeologists from Archaeology South-East and a specialist team from Survey Design Services Ltd.

Lewes Priory Trust commissioned the project which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and endorsed by English Heritage.

The Trust is hoping to discover both the direction and purpose of this culvert, which lies beneath the monks’ latrine block, and to discover more about the eating habits of the monks and the environment in which they lived.

Remotely-operated cameras were sent into the stone-lined vaulted culvert and detailed images were relayed and recorded for closer examination and the direction of the drain was plotted from signals sent to the surface.

After a distance of 17 metres the culvert appeared to have been deliberately blocked, possibly as a result of the building of the monks’ Refectory.

Archaeologists will now study the results of this survey to determine whether to extract sediments from the floor of the culvert for analysis and whether to re-open a partial excavation made in the 1970s of one of the main drains of the Priory.

Founded in the 11th century by monks from Cluny in France, the Priory of St Pancras survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537.