PIECES of Christ’s manger and part of Santa Claus’s finger were among objects given to an English abbey, new analysis has revealed.

A 580-year-old document details relics said to have been given to Battle Abbey, in East Sussex, by William the Conqueror and King John.

The manuscript is one of only 30 or so relic inventories to still survive from medieval England, and mentions 175 individual relics.

English Heritage historian Michael Carter has now translated the manuscript. Dr Carter said: “The collecting and cherishing of relics was an important aspect of medieval monasticism and I am thrilled to think that I could have been the first person in more than 500 years to study the glorious list from Battle Abbey in detail. There’s no greater endorsement than a king giving a gift of relics so this list reveals just how significant a place Battle Abbey was.”

Dr Carter said William the Conqueror gave more to Battle Abbey than any other abbey, “illustrating just how important the site of his victory at the Battle of Hastings remained”.

Relics claimed to be from the manger, and a finger bone, said to be from Saint Nicholas, are among items housed at the abbey. William the Conqueror was also said to have donated relics of several of the children killed on the orders of King Herod, the transcribed manuscript says.

Gifts given by King John when he visited the abbey in 1200, including relics from Christ’s tomb and the cross on which he was crucified, are listed in the manuscript. The inventory also mentions stones used to kill St Stephen, whose feast day is on December 26, as among the relics given to the abbey. Others gifts were given by King John when he visited the abbey in 1200 and presented the monks with the very holiest relics of the Holy Sepulchre (Christ’s tomb) and True Cross (the very cross on which Christ suffered and died). The research is published in The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies.