Archaeological investigators were hard at work yesterday afternoon excavating an area believed to contain remnants of an ancient civilisation.

Geoff Crockford, of Church Lane in Bovingdon, believes historic remains of a Druid society, dating back to second century BC, lie beneath fields and gardens on the south east side of Church Street.

He first became aware of the site about a month ago and through dowsing, a type of divination using metal rods to locate ground water, buried metal ores, gemstones, oil and gravesites, has uncovered what he believes to be a ‘Druid Nunnery’.

Mr Crockford, who has written a book explaining how dowsing can be used in modern day archaeology, explained: “Druids were a priestly and educated class active during the final centuries BCE and were suppressed by the Roman Government, disappearing by the second century.

“Bovingdon and Chipperfield has a history for turning up Romanic and Druidic foundations – bits of pottery have been uncovered over the years.

“I had been investigating neighbouring fields and a friend recommended looking at the field just behind the gardens in Church Street.

“By holding a witness, a sample of the substance being searched for, such as bone, while using the metal rods, I can get a clear picture of what’s beneath the soil.

“I am convinced there are chambers underneath the fields and neighbouring gardens.

"I believe they belonged to Druids because of the reaction I have had when dowsing – there is a lot of bronze present for door hinges, which would not have been there in Romanic times.”

A portion of the gardens in Church Street have recently been sold to a developer for housing, but Mr Crockford said he is not trying to prevent the development from going ahead, merely trying to uncover what lies beneath.

He said: “If I am right and there are Druidic chambers below, then archaeologically this is very important. The old method of dowsing will have a place alongside more modern methods.”

The Archaeological Investigation Unit, working for Dacorum Borough Council in conjunction with Hertfordshire County Council, has not yet uncovered any Druid artefacts.