Radio carbon analysis at the former Leper Hospital at St Mary Magdalen in Winchester, Hampshire, has provided a date range of AD 960-1030 for a series of burials, many exhibiting evidence of leprosy, on the site.
A number of other artefacts, pits, and postholes also relate to the same time including what appears to be a large sunken structure underneath a medieval infirmary.
Before this new claim, most historians and archaeologists thought that hospitals in the Britain only dated from after the Norman conquest of 1066.
“This is an important archaeological development,” said Dr Simon Roffey from the University of Winchester which conducted the dig.
“Historically, it has always been assumed that hospitals were a post-conquest phenomena, the majority founded from the late 11th century onwards.
“However, our excavations have revealed a range of buildings and, more significantly, convincing evidence for a foundation in the 10th century.