THE newly refurbished £4.5 million museum at Norton Priory has welcomed more than 10,000 visitors since it opened last month, trebling its numbers.

Many exhibits from Europe’s most excavated monastic site are on display for the first time in 500 years.

Claire Broadhurst, activity planner at Norton Priory said: ‘Norton Priory has a special place in many local people’s hearts and we were worried about their response to the changes.

“However, the public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, people are staying longer, learning more about Norton’s 900 years of history and bringing their friends and family too.”

The museum reopened in August following an 18 month closure and has already been shortlisted for the small visitor attraction of the year award by Marketing Cheshire.

The new interactive exhibits display more than four times the amount of artefacts unearthed at the medieval site.

Norton Priory received a £3.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as support from Halton Council, The Wellcome Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Arts Council England, The Wolfson Foundation, WREN, The Granada Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust and private donors to redevelop the museum and restore the 12th century undercroft and its Victorian decorative tiled floor.

Sir Christoph Brooke, whose family lived at Norton Priory from the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century through to the 1920’s, said: “From early monastic times to the 470 years that my family has had connections with Norton, the new museum puts into wonderful perspective this long journey.”