The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By ADAM UREN

DIS­COV­ERY of a me­dieval burial ground out­side St John’s Church in the city cen­tre has left ar­chae­ol­o­gists baf­fled.

Builders dug up more than they bar­gained for while work­ing on the multi-mil­lion pound re­gen­er­a­tion of St John’s Square and found four 500-year-old skele­tons.

There are no records of a burial ground so close to the church and ar­chi­tects are try­ing to find ways to build while pro­tect­ing the find, which could scup­per hopes of the works be­ing fin­ished by Septem­ber.

AR­CHAE­OL­O­GISTS have been con­founded by the shock dis­cov­ery of a me­dieval burial ground con­tain­ing hu­man re­mains out­side St John’s Church in Peter­bor­ough.

Builders work­ing on the cre­ation of St John’s Square as part of the multi-mil­lion pound re­gen­er­a­tion of the city cen­tre dug up more than they bar­gained for on Tues­day when the 500-year-old skele­tal re­mains of four peo­ple were dis­cov­ered just out­side the west en­trance.

The dis­cov­ery could scup­per hopes of the works be­ing com­pleted by Septem­ber with ar­chi­tects cur­rently dis­cussing a re-de­sign so that the stairs lead­ing down to the church do not dis­rupt the burial site.

But the de­lay could be a side is­sue when set against the po­ten­tial rev­e­la­tions it could bring about Peter­bor­ough’s her­itage, as his­tor­i­cal records make no men­tion of a burial ground in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of the church and more re­mains could be found.

Adam Yates, project man­ager for Northamp­ton­shire Ar­chae­ol­o­gists, which is over­see­ing the re­gen­er­a­tion work, said: “It was very much a sur­prise.

“Records make no ref­er­ence to a grave yard next to the church, so it was a sur­prise all round to find buri­als had taken place there.

“The burial ground it­self prob­a­bly dates back to the early days of the church, in or around the 15th cen­tury.

“They are con­sis­tent with church­yard buri­als as they are all lined up.”

Ju­lian Li­men­tani, the Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral ar­chi­tect who is rep­re­sent­ing St John’s Church, said that it is the church’s wish that the re­mains are not dis­turbed, which rules out ex­hum­ing the graves.

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists will in­stead carry out a “soil scrap­ing” to get a bet­ter look at the bones as well as look­ing to dis­cover what other ground has been dis­turbed by po­ten­tial buri­als.

Lit­tle work has been done on the site yet, but a hu­man skull and leg bones can clearly be seen in the shal­low holes dug by builders, who will now have to pro­tect the bones when the stairs are built.

Dave Gib­son, site man­ager for builders Os­borne’s, said: “We don’t want to dis­turb the re­mains any more than we have to so we are meet­ing with de­sign­ers to look at how we can build the stairs and ramps down to the church while pro­tect­ing the bones be­neath.”

Paul Mid­dle­ton, sec­re­tary of the Peter­bor­ough dioce­san ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, said there was noth­ing to in­di­cate there was a burial site around the church, with the church’s pre­vi­ous grave­yard sit­u­a­tion on what is now the Cres­cent Round­about, by Queens­gate.

FOUND: Site man­ager Dave Gib­son ex­am­ines the area where hu­man re­mains were found. Inset, an artist’s im­pres­sion of St John’s Square.

Pic­ture: row­land hob­son.

find: Site man­ager Dave Gib­son show­ing the area where bones have been found out­side St John’s Church. (METP09-06-10RH70)


dis­cov­ery: A skull frag­ment found on the site. (METP-09-06-10RH55)

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