Researchers have claimed that they have discovered the tomb of Saint Nicholas - whose habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus - beneath the ruins of a church in Turkey.

Researchers unearthed an intact temple underneath the Saint Nicholas Church in the Demre district. Researchers came across an untouched shrine while conducting digital surveys below the surface of the church.

Scientific and technological studies had revealed the existence of an intact tomb under the church, researchers said. "We believe this shrine has not been damaged at all, but it is quite difficult to get to it as there are mosaics on the floor" a researcher said.

Researchers have been working for three months and a CT scan, a geo-radar and eight academics have been brought in for the excavation work at the last stage.

"The world's eyes will be set on here. We claim that St Nicholas has been kept in this temple without any damage. We are at the last stage," the researchers said.