An archaeological dig which has just started at Exeter Cathedral could uncover artefacts as far back as the Romans.
The first stone has been lifted in a six-week investigative dig where a new cloister gallery will ultimately be built.
Archaeologists want to find out what is below the paving slabs and grass which covers the area just outside the cathedral's chapter house, which has never been examined before.
The dig is expected to provide crucial information about the layout of the medieval cloister - which was torn down in 1657 - and the state of its foundations which, if still serviceable, will be reused for the new building.
John Allan, the cathedral's archaeologist, said it was a golden opportunity to learn more about a part of Exeter with a rich history.
Underneath here, as we go down, we expect we will see evidence of earlier things. We know that somewhere around here there was a Saxon minster with ancillary buildings. Below that, there may be remains of the Roman period, so it is a really interesting site and really interesting archaeology as well as, of course, this magnificent architectural setting.
The dig is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with the final design and construction subject to the release of a full grant, and match funding from the Cathedral’s own fundraising appeal.
It is also subject to heritage and planning approval.