Priceless medieval music found during council clear out

An extremely rare medieval parchment has been uncovered by staff at Herefordshire County Council during a clean up of the local authority's archive.

The sheet of church music would have originally been sung in a monastery by monks as far back as the 1400s.

The music would have been sung by monks as a Gregorian chant Credit: ITV News Central/Chris Halpin

The item was only found because the archive is currently going through an extensive stock check, as it is being moved to a new purpose-built archive in early 2015.

Staff are currently going through around 17,500 boxes, which contain nearly one million separate items, ready for the mammoth move.

*Watch council archivist Eleona Harris explain the finer details of the parchment to ITV News Central reporter Chris Halpin *

Much of this music was destroyed after Henry VIII dissolved the Catholic church during the reformation of the monasteries, which started in 1527.

It seems this piece survived as it was used a protective covering for other important documents from Goodrich Castle in south Herefordshire.

The parchment would have been part of an entire hymn book Credit: ITV News Central/Chris Halpin

Those documents then came to be kept in the council archive around 40 years ago, but when they were catalogued, the priceless parchment was described simply as 'old church music'.

Ironically, archivists at the records office are now very excited about the parchment and not what it's attached to, as they estimate there could only be around 100 pieces of English medieval music from this period left in existence.

As part of our report we took the parchment to Belmont Abbey, a monastery just outside Hereford, to see what the monks there made of the piece of religious parchment.

Medieval scribes used to like to 'doodle' or decorate their work Credit: ITV News Central/Chris Halpin

Surprisingly, rather than the work being completely unrecognisable to them, Father Raphael confirmed the melody and words have actually survived as part of Catholic church services to the modern day.

They say the psalm would be sung in the fourth week of lent, and is probably from a communion service.

The single page found in the archive would have belonged to an entire hymn book.

So with just 20 percent of the records office sorted so far, there could still well be some more surprises to be uncovered.

Watch: Priceless medieval parchment found in council clear up