Archaeologists working with Britain's high speed rail project HS2 have discovered what they believe to be the remains of an Anglo-Saxon church.

The discovery was made underneath a Norman-era church a team of more than 40 archaeologists have been excavating in Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire. The team found flint walls forming a square structure underneath the Norman church which is enclosed by a circular boundary ditch and was adjacant to a small number of associated burials. 

UK Stoke Mandeville Church

A computer generated image of how the Anglo-Saxon church may have looked. PICTURE: Courtesy of HS2.

The Norman church which was being excavated when the discovery was made had been built in 1080 AD, shortly after the Norman Conquest, and was renovated in later centuries. It fell into disrepair following the construction of a church closer to the village centre in the 1880s and was pulled down in the 1960s.

Archaeologist Dr Rachel Wood, who is leading the excavations, described the find as a "fantastic discovery".

"To have so much of it remaining, including the walls and even some flooring, will provide a great deal of information about the site prior to the construction of the Norman church in 1080 AD," she said in published remarks. "The discovery of this pre-Norman, possible Saxon Church is a once in a career opportunity for archaeologists and will provide a much greater understanding of the history of Stoke Mandeville.”

The archaeologists have identified reused Roman tiles in the foundations meaning it is possible they were taken from a nearby Roman settlement and incorporated into the church.

HS2 is a new high speed railway which will link up London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland. It will connect more than 25 stations including eight of the UK's 10 largest cities. Phase one of the three stage project is scheduled for completion between 2029 and 2033.

A Field Museum Open Weekend on the site of Old St Mary’s Church will be held on the weekend of 25th and 26th September.