IMPORTANT parts of Christchurch’s rich heritage could be lying in a landfill site in the New Forest, says a local archaeological group.

The Christchurch Antiquarians (TCA), who have been monitoring timbers recovered from the site of the King’s Arms housing development in Castle Street, have discovered they date back to 1160AD, around the time well-known local landmark Constable’s House was built.

When the re-development of the King’s Arms, a 200-year-old former coaching inn, was given the go-ahead in 2007, the Antiquarians lobbied Christchurch Borough Council to include an archaeological watching brief in the planning conditions.

But to the disappointment of the group, and local historians, the brief was cancelled before the completion of the excavation, after they said no traces of Saxon defences or other remains were found.

Undeterred by the decision, the group began to unofficially monitor the site with permission of the building contractor, tracing a large number of large oak timbers all the way to the New Milton Sand and Ballast site at Pennington.

Roger Donne, secretary of the TCA, said: “The spectacular result confirmed TCA’s view of the importance of the site.

“It also makes it all the more tragic that, by the indifference of the authorities, so much valuable information which would have been revealed by excavation and careful study of the remains, was lost.”