Has the Friary of St Saviours finally been discovered?

After excavating 17 bodies from the site, which is redeveloping the Ocky White building in Haverfordwest, Dyfed Archaeological Trust Archaeological Services have hit an ancient burial ground.

Now the team want to know whether they have found the mysterious friary of St Saviours, which they know moved into the town walls in around the 14th century.

Head of DAT Archaeological Services Fran Murphy says there are many clues to the existence of the friary in the town through financial transactions which the church kept meticulous record of throughout history, and more obvious clues such as street names in the town like Friars Lane.

The National Wales: DAT Archaeological Trust are doing a dig on the site of Ocky Whites in HaverfordwestDAT Archaeological Trust are doing a dig on the site of Ocky Whites in Haverfordwest

The National Wales: The team have been on the site since February and have already found 17 bodies in a burial groundThe team have been on the site since February and have already found 17 bodies in a burial ground

The friary, which was of Dominican Order is believed to have stood in Haverfordwest for about three centuries.

The Dominicans, or Black Friars, had a different agenda to most monastic orders in that they went amongst the population, preaching, praying and teaching.

The National Wales: Amongst the discoveries are ancient tiles believed to be from a mysterious friaryAmongst the discoveries are ancient tiles believed to be from a mysterious friary

The National Wales: The Friary of St Saviours is believed to date back to the 13th centuryThe Friary of St Saviours is believed to date back to the 13th century

Seventeen skeletons were found bound in shroud burials with their arms wrapped across their chest.

They have been removed form the site and taken away for analysis.

The National Wales: The team are currently excavating a 19th century foundry having unearthed an old water systemThe team are currently excavating a 19th century foundry having unearthed an old water system

The National Wales: A medieval wall. Beneath the blue sheet was where some of the bodies were foundA medieval wall. Beneath the blue sheet was where some of the bodies were found

The team are currently close to a metre beneath the surface excavating a 19th century iron foundry called Joseph Marychurch which closed after an explosion in 1902.

The National Wales: Beneath the pipes was where 17 bodies were found in an ancient shroud burialBeneath the pipes was where 17 bodies were found in an ancient shroud burial

The National Wales: Skeletal remains of animals have been foundSkeletal remains of animals have been found

But it’s the friary Fran wants to find with further clues having already been discovered such as decorated floor and wall tiles.

“We know it’s there because of a series of monastic references, mainly records about money,” Fran told the Western Telegraph when we visited the site.

“At its height there were apparently eight friars who were part of the friary before it was dissolved and past into private hands.

“It was dissolved in the 1530s with one of the friars scrubbing his name from the list of friars at the priory which is peculiar and might have been a protest to it closing.”

The National Wales: A pin used to hold one of the shrouds together in the burialsA pin used to hold one of the shrouds together in the burials

The National Wales: The team reckon they will be there until JuneThe team reckon they will be there until June

DAT Archaeological Services started work at Ocky Whites in February and is scheduled to be at the site until June.

The old Ocky Whites building is currently being redeveloped into a three-storey local food and beverage emporium with bar and rooftop terrace.