A FORMER town mayor has been drafted in to translate ancient words newly discovered on a ceiling in the town’s Master’s House.

The mediaeval building in St Katherine’s car park is being renovated and the text has been found in one of the rooms.

The town’s mayor Allen Conway has asked former mayor and a member of the Ledbury Civic Society Keith Francis, who can read both ancient Greek and Latin, to help make sense of the text.

Councillor Francis’ first attempt at getting a look at the words was foiled however when he got to the old building to find workmen had taken the floorboards up, meaning he was unable to gain access for health and safety reasons.

He would not be drawn on what the words might say.

Coun Conway announced the discovery of the letters at the recent annual town meeting, saying the words could be Greek.

However he believes Latin is more likely, but added: “Until I’ve actually seen the words, I cannot speculate.”

Greek words would be a rare discovery, because the language only gradually became widespread among scholars in the western world after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The Master’s House, part of the mediaeval St Katherine’s Hospital complex, dates to 1485.

Latin was the language of what was at the time purely the Roman Catholic church during the mediaeval period.

When the renovation is complete, the Master’s House will house Ledbury’s new library.

At the town meeting, Coun Conway said he hoped people would be able to choose their first books there in December 2013.