Archaeologists uncovered the burial site of a lost 15th century Abbot.

Members of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust have been working at St Albans Cathedral ahead of the construction of a new Welcome Centre, .

During an excavation of a brick-lined tomb within a building pre-dating the Monk’s Cemetery, a tomb was found to contain the body of an aged adult male.

The team also discovered three papal seals - known as papal bulls - inside the grave, believed to have been issued by Pope Martin V (1417-1431).

Research undertaken by the trust suggested that the body could be John of Wheathampstead, a former abbot of St Albans who died in 1465, as a grave with more than one bulla - is highly unusual and must mark the burial of a significant individual.

The Abbot was born in 1390 in Wheathampstead and resigned from his role in 1440 due to ill health.

However, he was re-elected in 1451 and remained in office until he died in 1465.

His burial site was previously unknown, but the trust says archaeological evidence suggests that he was buried within a range of buildings that were constructed during his time as abbot.

Paul Bennett, director of the trust, said: “It is really great news for the area and such a positive thing to happen.”

The trust’s website added: “Excavations to date have focused on an 18th to 19th Century burial ground, known as the Monks’ Cemetery from which over eighty burials have so far been carefully excavated, recorded and lifted for further analysis.

“The opening of a cemetery on the south-east side of the church was almost certainly due to a mounting pressure for burial space at that time.

“More than 170 recorded burials had been interred on the site by the time the burial ground closed in 1850.”

The Alban, Britain’s First Saint, aims to “highlight the fantastically rich heritage of worship and pilgrimage that can be found within the cathedral”.

The Abbey Book of Benefactors mentions John was known for securing three bulls from Pope Martin following a trip to Italy in 1423 where he made three requests to the Pope for privileges to be granted to his abbey and its monks.

Archaeological work will continue at St Albans Cathedral until early 2018 and the new Welcome Centre will open in June 2019.

The Welcome Centre is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and part of the Alban, Britain’s First Saint project.