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You Never Know What You'll Find When You Start Digging!

Well well well: couple find medieval shaft beneath sofa

For almost three decades, Colin Steer had wondered what had caused the living room floor beneath his sofa to dip but it was only after he retired that he discovered his family had been sitting on a piece of history.

Intrigued by the sunken floor, the retired civil servant has uncovered a 33ft medieval well in the house where he and wife Vanessa have lived for almost 25 years.

After three days of work Mr Steer, from Plymouth, Devon, stopped digging at 17ft and is now trying to date the unexpected find. Plans show the well dates back to the 16th century.

Mr Steer was replacing the joists in the floor when he noticed a slight depression – it appeared to be filled in with the foundations of the house. He dug down about one foot but his wife just wanted him to cover it back up because they had three children running around at the time.

After that he had always wanted to dig it out to see if he could find a pot of gold at the bottom, so when he retired at the end of last year that's what he started to do.

The indentation in the floor was covering a well around 30 inches wide.

Mr Steer managed to excavate it using a rope to carry out the debris with the help of a friend before discovering an old sword.

"It was hidden at a 45 degree angle and sort of just fell out. It looks like an old peasant's fighting weapon because it appears to be made up of bits of metal all knocked together," he said.

According to Mr Steer’s research, the land on which his house in Mannamead Road now stands was woodland until 1895, with Drake’s leat running through it.

The watercourse was built in the 16th century by Sir Francis Drake to carry water from Dartmoor to Plymouth.

He said: "I've been doing lots of research into its history but I'd like to try and find someone to date it.

"I love the well and think it's fascinating. I'd love to find out who was here before us. I've got a piece of Plymouth's history in my front room."

Mr Steer has installed lights in the structure and the well has been covered up by a trapdoor beside his sofa.

“You never know what your going to dig up, do you” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire.

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