A stone coffin, believed to be around 1,000 years old has been discovered by chance as volunteers carried out their annual clean-up in the churchyard at historic All Hallows in Woolbeding.
Church warden Noel Simpson said: “Parishioners in the working party were clearing garden waste when they came across a stone. They came and told me they thought they had discovered a horse trough. I went to look and knew straight away it was a sarcophagus.”
It suddenly dawned on Mr Simpson that the sarcophagus was exactly the same size as an ornate Saxon grave slab inside the church and he began a meticulous investigation. The former deputy head teacher at Midhurst Grammar School realised they had unearthed another secret held by the ancient church which was mentioned in the domesday book in 1086 AD.
“It was very exciting. I am mad about history and have been involved in archaeology most of my life, I study the Saxons and I realised this was a jigsaw coming together.”