HUNDREDS of people turned up to see what volunteers had unearthed at the first archaeological dig open day at St Mary’s churchyard in Kidderminster.

The Kidderminster Civic Society dig, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is hoping to find Kidderminster’s missing Saxon monastery or minster.

The lottery funding was applied for after a radar survey carried out in 2006 appeared to show a building in the churchyard.

A second open day will be held on Saturday as part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend.

The Svartland Living History Society will also be at the event in recognition of 19th century historian Reverend John Burton’s belief that the minster was destroyed by Danish Vikings who came up the River Severn.

The history group will be demonstrating Viking and Saxon crafts and skills and will be giving two combat displays.

Archaeological team leader Tom Vaughan, said: “So far we've not revealed any structural remains which the previous radar survey appeared to indicate within the site.

“It may be that the survey was skewed by changes in the natural geology, the sandy soils or the weather conditions.

“The project is revealing fascinating evidence of how the churchyard has been used and changed through time, with some unexpected finds spanning over 3,000 years, from prehistoric worked flint to medieval glazed floor tiles, pottery shards to early 20th century marble bottles, iron slag to fragments of 19th century headstones.

“The volunteers have also been excellent, with seemingly endless reserves of enthusiasm and energy, even in the rain, bringing a great deal of information and personal histories about St Mary's and Kidderminster to the project.”

The site and the church will be open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. There will be guided tours to explain what has been found as well as displays of pottery and artefacts.