A “face” carved into a wall at Worksop Priory in as far back as 980 AD has been discovered during rennovation works on the historic landmark.
Staff stumbled across the “glorious” find after a new heating system was installed via a funding appeal, allowing the church’s walls to dry out so that peeling plaster could be removed.
Heath Shakespeare, stone mason, was chiseling away when he was surprised to see a face “looking out at him”.
Experts have since been to visit the Priory and are still debating an exact date the carving was made, but estimate it to be as early as 980 AD.
The wall was finished around 1260 AD and may have been a felt stone that someone decided to decorate before it was lime-washed over.
Father Nicholas Spicer, vicar at the Priory, said the mysterious carving was a “glorious discovery”.
“The stone was probably carved elsewhere and part of another church or building and then brought to Priory,” he added.
“Either way, Worksop has another treasure for us to love and be proud of.”
The Priory, a former Augustian monastery that was founded in the 12th century, already boasts its fair share of “treasures”.
The church is home to a 14th century Grade I listed gatehouse, including a shrine chapel which is still occasionally used for worship and has an external wall covered in intricate sculpture.
Thanks to grants from the Lottery Fund, the shrine chapel has also been repaired and restored.
This week is National Heritage open week and the church and gatehouse will be open to visitors on Friday from 10-2pm, Saturday from 10-4pm and on Sunday from 1- 4pm.
There will be a further opportunity to discover 900 years of history at the Priory at an open evening on Friday, October 6 from 6.30pm.
Tickets for the event are £12.50, including a buffet supper, and can be obtained through church members or by calling 01909 475934.