Mass Medieval grave found in archaeology dig at Durham World Heritage Site

By Culture24 Reporter | 01 December 2013

A mass Medieval grave found by Durham University excavators contains 18 bodies, say archaeologists planning investigations on the bones

A photo of a skull next to a glove in soil
A mass grave has been found at an unexpected burial ground within the Durham World Heritage Site© North News
The body count at a mass grave crammed with hastily-buried bodies, found by archaeologists investigating library grounds originally thought to have been part of the cemetery at Durham Cathedral, has risen from four to 18 skeletons.

An overhead photo of a muddy archaeological site with diggers
The dig took place in November as part of a major library development© North News
Puzzled experts say the burial site, excavated during work on the £10 million enhancement of Palace Green Library, is geographically unusual.

“We have found clear evidence of a mass burial and not a normal group of graves," says Richard Innis, a senior archaeologist at Archaeological Services Durham University.
“One of the densest areas of the excavation was further north, which is further away from the edge of the presumed graveyard.
“The bodies have been tipped into the earth without elaborate ceremony and they are tightly packed together and jumbled.
“Some are buried in a North to South alignment, rather than the traditional East to West alignment that we would expect from a conventional medieval burial site.

“The process of post-excavation processing, examination and analysis is essential to allow us to draw proper conclusions about this group of human remains.
"It is too early to say what they may be.”
Efforts to date the bones will begin in the new year, with permission for further excavations granted by the Ministry of Justice.

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A photo of a skull next to a glove in soil
© North News
A photo of a female archaeologist in hi-vis clothing and a jacket inspecting a soily skull
© North News
A photo of a skull next to a glove in soil
© North News
An overhead photo of a muddy archaeological site with diggers
© North News
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