Dig seeks William Shakespeare's shards for ale in his Stratford back garden

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Archaeologists in Stratford-upon-Avon have made a sensational discovery: Shakespeare's broken beer jug. Possibly.

Scraps of pottery, broken clay pipe and a 19th century penny have emerged from a muddy hole in what was a garden until a week ago. But this is the most extensive hunt for Shakespeare in his own backyard in 150 years, and every scrap is precious.

In 1597 the playwright returned from London a rich and famous man and bought New Place, the second best house in his home town. He had a fair copy made of his title deeds, now in the archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, owner of the site and a string of other properties linked with the most famous playwright in the world. The house vanished centuries ago but Birmingham Archaeology and volunteers are joining forces to recover any evidence left in the ground.

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