Fragments from a 10th Century Anglo-Saxon stone cross have been discovered in a Lincolnshire rectory garden.
One stone was discovered during maintenance work at St James’ Church rectory in Louth, while church verger Christopher Marshall found the second.
Historians said the stones are proof that Louth was an important centre for Christianity in medieval times.
Verger Mr Marshall believes the stones are the earliest Christian artefacts to be found in the town.
It is thought the cross would have been on a 3-4m (10-13ft) plinth.
Mr Marshall said: “The cross was erected at a very important time in the development of Louth and the early church. So far, it is the only tangible evidence that has been found from that period.”
Built in the 15th Century, St James’ Church on Eastgate has an imposing 295ft (90m) spire overlooking the town.
The discovery of the cross provides a link between the present church, an 8th and 9th Century Anglo-Saxon monastery, and the town’s 10th Century shrine to the Anglo-Saxon bishop of Lindsey, St Herefrith.
Reverend Nick Brown said: “It is truly inspiring to find an object that may have been a focus for devotion and prayer many centuries ago here in Louth.”
Conservation work will begin on the stones in summer, and they will go on public display in the church later this year.