A RETIRED architect says he is thrilled to have taken part in an excavation of historical artefacts – in his own back yard.
Peter Robinson lives in a house built on the site of the old Chilwell Hall, in High Road, a stately home dating back more than 600 years which was demolished in the 1930s.
Mr Robinson, 68, said he was delighted and extremely excited to have been part of the seven-day archaeological dig.
He said: "I'm thrilled to have discovered that there is a little bit of local history literally right under our feet."
In 2005 the Trent and Peak Archaeology unit carried out a survey on the site which sparked Mr Robinson's interest in excavating the remains of the hall.
He then looked at Ordnance Survey maps and decided, after a chance encounter with a representative from the Grantham Archaeological Society last year, to allow them to spend a week of intense excavation, digging trenches to find out more.
Mr Robinson said: "Our garden has been full of diggers and mental detectors this week and the archaeologists have found lots of interesting artefacts, such as pieces of clay piping from the house and foundations.
"It is really like a Chinese puzzle fitting into place."
Chilwell Hall was once owned by the Martels, from whom it descended to the Babingtons. Both were families of estate and position.
The home then passed by marriage to the Delves, of Doddington in Cheshire, and from them to the Sheffields, Marquises of Normandy and Dukes of Buckingham.
Its name is remembered in nearby Hall Drive, off the High Road.
One of the most exciting discoveries of the excavation was a 50-metre-long cellar which Mr Robinson described as looking like a giant backbone of a fish spanning the garden.
He said: "You can imagine in days gone by children running up and down the cellar passageways scaring themselves silly.
"It really is fantastic to have made so many discoveries in a suburban lawn that is hiding years of secrets."
Mr Robinson and the archaeological team have carefully recorded everything they have discovered about the house and plan to publish their findings.
He added: "My wife said our garden has looked like a First World War battlefield for the past week because of all the digging and measuring, but we are both delighted to be part of such an astounding piece of history."