A family burial vault that can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries has been found by accident at Gloucester Cathedral.

Described as "extremely well preserved," the tomb — discovered by archaeologists when they lifted a ledger stone as part of inspection ahead of new lift installation — contains coffins that belong to the Hyett family dating from the said centuries.

The lift installation is part of Project Pilgrim, a 10-year plan to improve the facilities of the cathedral that originated in 678-679 A.D. and has a large collection of funerary monuments dating from the Middle Ages.

The evaluation process caused the contents of the 8-foot-deep vault to be seen through a small hole.

"[W]e can just see into a genuine intact family vault," said cathedral archaeologist Richard Morriss, considering it a far cry from the earth and bones that can normally be spotted upon digging up a ledger slab.

Morriss said that the tomb remained intact despite Gloucester Cathedral often being restored, with its floors getting relaid. He called the coffins "extremely well preserved," with their name plates still present and even matching the names on the ledgers found above.

The family is likely "pretty wealthy," the archaeologist added, to be able to afford the burial vault in the heart of the cathedral.

Heritage records showed that Benjamin Hyett was born in Dursley, Gloucestershire on Mar. 30, 1651 and married 21-year-old Elizabeth Morwent in 1674. The wife passed away when she was 55 years old, in 1708; Benjamin followed three years later when he was 62.

The vault's discovery was featured on BBC One’s "Inside Out West" on Nov. 2 and can be accessed for a month from there on BBC iPlayer.

For Rev. Canon Celia Thomson, it was "particularly poignant" to find a child's coffin, aside from the exciting discovery of the vault that "brings history to life."

A descendant of the Hyett family by marriage, Lord Dickinson dubbed it a "fascinating" find under the slab. Beneath the ledger stone, too, were re-deposited human skulls, leg bones, and other remains.

Photo: Gary Ullah | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.