A historic stone lion statue has been found by conservation volunteers in the River Kennet.

Historians think it came from White Friar’s Priory church which once stood on the present Priory Gardens site.

The weighty carving was hauled out of the river just behind the Waitrose car park by Action for River Kennet (ARK) volunteers.

It had lain there for centuries before being discovered in one of ARK's river restoration projects in 2015.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Volunteers described the statue as 'bloody heavy'Volunteers described the statue as 'bloody heavy'

"We left it there as we couldn't lift it out," said ARK's Anna Forbes. "We were doing a river litter pick last year, when a local historian, David Sherratt was walking past. He asked us if we ever found anything interesting!

"This is the most interesting object we have found and the volunteers who discovered it are very excited.

"We just left it there until we could figure out what to do with it.

" It is surprisingly well preserved. It is very heavy and it took four strong volunteers to lift it out of the river.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The lion in the waterThe lion in the water

She described the lion as looking a bit like a gargoyle, roughly hewn, but with clearly visible paws and mane.

"It has taken us a while to find a good home for it, so this week it will be moved to the Merchant's House Garden in Marlborough so people can go and see it for themselves."

David Dawson, Director at Wiltshire Museum, said “It is a very fine 14th century corbel which is an important part of the history of Marlborough.

"It is an unusual corbel in that it has two wall faces at right-angles. This suggests that it was from the junction of the nave or chancel and a transept.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The location where the corbel would have satThe location where the corbel would have sat

Historical records say that human burials were revealed during an excavation of The Priory gardens in Marlborough in 2001.

The house of White Friars and Carmelites was founded in 1316 and there were five friars in residence until its dissolution in 1538.

The Merchant’s House says anyone wishing to see the lion will need to book with the Trust Office on 01672 511491.

If you would like to volunteer for ARK email Anna on anna@riverkennet.org