Saxon graveyard found under Warwickshire patio

Last summer, homeowners Stephen and Nicky West were having an addition built on to their house in Ratley, south Warwickshire, when their builders found a skeleton buried under the patio. The Wests are local history enthusiasts and immediately thought the body might be a casualty from a 1642 English Civil War battle that took place in nearby Edgehill.

They contacted the Warwickshire County Council who dispatched experts to determine whether the skeleton was historical or a the result of contemporary foul play. The archaeologist’s preliminary assessment was that any foul play that might have occurred took place hundreds of years ago. Under normal circumstances the find would not have been pursued much further because the local council doesn’t have the money to analyze every skeleton found under people’s patios. It was Stephen and Nicky West who personally commissioned Archaeology Warwickshire to excavate further under the patio and test the bones.

The archaeologists identified the remains of at least four bodies which included two adult females, a young male and a juvenile aged between 10 and 12.

Radiocarbon dates from two of the skeletons show that they died around 650-820 AD in what is known as the middle Saxon period. [...]

[Archaeology Warwickshire's manager Stuart] Palmer said: “The discovery of this previously unsuspected burial ground is an extremely rare and important addition to what has previously been an archaeologically invisible period of Warwickshire’s history.

“Detailed analysis of the skeletons has revealed an insight into the health of the middle Saxon population who clearly suffered periods of malnourishment and were subject to a wide range of infections indicative of lives of extreme hardship and often near-constant pain.”

Palmer believes the four skeletons found are part of a larger burial ground underneath the West’s home and adjacent properties. There won’t be further excavations, what with the people living there, but given the centuries of development on the spot, it’s remarkable that 1200-year-old plus skeletons were found at all.

The bones will be kept in storage by Archaeology Warwickshire until they decide what the final disposition will be. No little girls have been reported sucked into their TVs as of press time.

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6 Comments »

Comment by LadyShea
2011-11-23 10:33:05

It’s not gold, but still, it seems people in the UK stumble over treasures every other damn day.

Comment by livius drusus
2011-11-25 12:35:22

Small island + lots of inhabited time = gold/bones in them thar hills.

 
 
Comment by Steve
2011-11-23 12:40:18

What a wonderful feeling it must be to be a history buff in Europe, with their extensive history of civilization, plagues, and wars that spans millenia. In the US, we have but 400 years of history; and that’s on the east coast. If you live west of the Mississippi River, it’s only 200 years of history. We are such a young nation. We may have rich history, but I can only dream what it would be like to live in places with ancient history buried beneath my feet.

Comment by livius drusus
2011-11-25 12:40:16

We do have the mound-builders, cliff-dwellers and even the Clovis if you want to go full paleonthological. Thomas Jefferson was fascinated by the ancient mounds at Monticello. He’s often credited as America’s first archaeologist.

 
 
Comment by doolb rimy
2011-11-24 10:32:16

I can’t imagine the moral fiber necessary to report something like that rather than keep it all to oneself. :skull:

+1 Poltergeist refernce.

Comment by livius drusus
2011-11-25 12:36:58

Thank you! I felt it was de rigeur.

 
 
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