Body of young woman who had Charles I shilling placed over eye found in shallow Oxford grave

By Ben Miller | 03 March 2015

Charles I shilling dropped to shoulder of young woman after burial in shallow grave in back garden

A photo of a skeleton in a brown mud and sand grave
© Oxford Archaeology
The body of a young woman buried with a silver shilling on her eye in a 17th century shallow grave has been discovered in Oxford alongside a set of coins struck by Charles I at the Tower Mint during the Civil War.

Archaeologists suspected the St Cross College site could have been an unknown burial ground. But other bones found at the site were confirmed as animal remains, with maps from the period suggesting that the area was used for gardening rather than buildings or cemeteries.

A photo of a pair of 17th century silver coins
© Oxford Archaeology
“At present we have one young adult female burial that potentially dates from the English Civil War,” says Carl Champness, the Senior Project Manager for Oxford Archaeology South.

“The burial is unusual as it is currently isolated and not near to any known burial grounds.

A photo of archaeologists in high-visibility clothing working at an outdoor excavation
© Oxford Archaeology
“The body was placed in a large shallow grave, in a burial shroud held in place with pins.

“One Charles I silver shilling, struck at the Tower Mint in 1640 or 1641, was potentially placed on the eyes of the body and left to then fall close to her shoulders after burial.”

The presence of the coin and lack of signs of disease suggest the woman could have come from a well-off family, according to experts. The dig began last week as part of the creation of a new West Quad at the college.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an archaeologist in a high-visibility jacket and white helmet working in a pit
© Oxford Archaeology
A photo of an outdoor archaeology site full of mud and stones next to buildings
© Oxford Archaeology
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Latest comment: >Make a comment

Could it be that this young woman was accused of witchcraft
and executed, there by being buried in unconsecrated ground.
I believe there was a practice in some countries to cover the
eyes so to protect her accusers from being cursed by the soul
of the witch.
>See all comments
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