The earliest known brick kiln in the country has been discovered during archaeological excavations on an Augustinian priory in South Humberside. The kiln dates from the early fourteenth century and was used to make bricks for the monastery buildings. The Department of the 'Environment ancient monuments section started work on Thornholme Priory at Appleby, near Scunthorpe, this autumn because the priory outbuildings, which are well preserved, were being damaged by ploughing.
Thornholme, which was founded about 1150 by King Stephen, was dissolved in 1536 by King Henry VIII, along with many other small monasteries producing less than £200 a year.
Besides the brick kiln, this year's digging has revealed what is probably the country's largest and best preserved medieval malting oven. Bricks from the kiln were used in its building.
One of the excavation's codirectors, Mr Glyn Coppack, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, said: "The information we gather from this site should shed light on the day-today life in a medieval monastery, beyond the religious aspect.
"We know plenty about the main buildings in religious houses from other sites, but here we are fortunate in being able to excavate the lesser known outbuildings on a site where they are particularly complete."
Although work is nearly finished for this year, the department plans to continue work in the spring.