Tudor House Museum now looks likely to lose its status as the city's oldest house after scientific evidence has revealed neighbouring buildings could be even older.

Archaeologists have discovered that a pair of cottages next to the Tudor House could have been built almost 50 years before.

By using dendrochronology - a system of dating by looking at the growth rings of wood used to build the houses - scientists have found that two adjacent cottages in Blue Anchor Lane could have been built as early as 1448, nearly half a century before the Tudor House was constructed in the 1490s.

Another cottage next to the Tudor House entrance in Bugle Street, which is often mistaken as a Victorian building due to its 19th century brickwork, is believed to have been built in 1461.

The discovery has excited archaeologists and historians in the city who have long believed Tudor House to be the oldest in Southampton.

Southampton City Council ancient monuments officer, Dr Andy Russel, said: "The cottages were somewhat in the shadow of their larger and grander neighbour but now we know they're even older which will add to the attraction. We suspected some buildings were older but we couldn't prove it.

"You often get two or three experts together and they argue about which building is older but dendrochronology gives us fixed dates."

Dr Russel said the original two-storey timber-frame building was a medieval hall-house that would have been rented out.

The cottages would have been built by John Fleming, a Mayor of Southampton from 1445 to 1447 who was the city's representative at Westminster Hall. Mr Fleming, whose family came from Flanders in Belgium, died in 1454.

Dr Russel confirmed the other cottage next to Tudor House was built by merchant John Williams and dated back to the 1460s.

He said he is now keen to find out the age of the nearby Red Lion and Duke of Wellington pubs.

The archaeological survey of the Tudor House buildings was part of a £1.6m repair and renovation programme by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It originally consisted of three buildings dating back to around 1150 and it stands opposite Southampton's oldest building, St Michael's Church, which was built in 1070.

It has housed some of Southampton's most prominent citizens, including MP John Dawtrey, who created the building we know today.

Local historian Genevieve Bailey said: "I was blown away. All this time we have been giving this courtesy to Tudor House and it is the lovely little cottage next to it that is the older building."