A mysterious stone object has been discovered during maintenance work on the moat of Nunney Castle.
A team of English Heritage used a digger to improve the flow into the moat, which is still filled with algae despite the installation of a new weir in October last year.
The pipe that fills the moat from the weir in the Nunney Brook opposite The George at Nunney currently runs over the top of a sewage pipe. The plan was to move it below the sewer instead.
Much to their surprise the ancient stone structure with a hole in the middle turned up. An archaeologist from English Heritage was present, but was unable to shed light on the purpose of the structure.
A very old brown clay pot was also found on the site.
The stone structure was possibly used in the Middle Ages to control the flow of water into the moat, but further research will need to be done.
Given that the hole is square rather than round, it would seem unlikely that it used to have something that turned in it. It is more likely that it was a base for an timber post and that further similar structures are yet to be found.
For many years at the start of the 20th century access to the castle was via a footbridge on the south side of the castle. This was changed in 1934, after the repairs to the castle were completed.
Perhaps the stone structure is part of an old footbridge, although it was found much closer to the gate than the bridge in the photo. If it was a base for a flagpole, there are no known archive photos showing either a flagpole or telegraph pole on the spot.
Further excavation will now need to establish whether the pipe that feeds the moat was originally running over or under the newly discovered stone structure – an indication of which came first.
For the time being, the familiar image of three men standing around a hole in the ground and scratching their head can be seen at Nunney Castle.