ENTHUSIASTIC excavators have been digging for clues near one of Winchester's most historic buildings.

More than 60 members of a Winchester archaeology group have spent the last two weeks exploring the lumps and bumps of a field bordering the Hospital of St Cross.

The dig, which organisers said was hampered by poor weather, uncovered evidence of a 14th century walled garden, which belonged to a now demolished part of the hospital's almshouses.

Medieval tiles and stained glass were also found, which, it is thought, was dumped when the site's church was renovated in the 1860s.

Organisers WARG, the society for Winchester archaeology and local history, held two open days last weekend (August 9-10) to show the public what the group was doing and what had been unearthed. More than 50 people turned up on Saturday, despite heavy rain.

"People have a huge interest in archaeology and history, especially if they live in the local area," said Julia Sandison, excavation organiser and site manager of the dig. "Winchester always used to have community digs, which were always massively over-subscribed. This kind of event is now the closest thing people have."

The artefacts unearthed by the group included a 17th century clay pipe, a decorated floor tile from the 1300s and a piece of pottery from the 16th or 17th century.

Dick Selwood, chairman of WARG, said: "It is a great privilege to be able to look into this area. We have a long list of people to thank, including the trustees and staff of the Hospital of St Cross and Mr and Mrs Skeats who farm the land."

He added the group, who first began excavating the field last year, following a talk by Dr John Crook, a consultant archaeologist of the hospital, would like to make the dig an annual event.

For more information, visit www.warg.org.uk.