UNDERWATER archaeologists have probed the depths of a south Wiltshire lake in the grounds of a stately home to try and discover what was there before the valley was flooded.

Members of the Nautical Archaeology Society started their underwater research at Stourhead, the National Trust property near Mere.

They are interested in the huge lake, which was created when Henry Hoare flooded the area as part of his design for the landscape garden in the 18th Century.

In particular, they were searching for the location of a Chinese bridge, and whether any of it remains.

They were also looking for the remains of a water cascade built by Henry Flitcroft in front of The Temple of Flora, and the location of Neptune's statue which was originally standing in a rocky arch in front of The Temple.

Alex Brannen from the National Trust, said Henry Hoare dammed medieval fishponds as part of his grand design for the garden.

"We want to find out what's really underneath the lake, what plant life was there before its creation, any structures which might have been flooded and whether the lake holds any other mysteries," he added.