Monday, 30 April 2012

News -Dig report reveals Dark Ages link (Southwell)

Human remains that could date back to the Dark Ages were among the finds on a site in Southwell earmarked for homes.

A report into the archaeology discovered at Platts Orchard, Southwell, which has planning consent for three homes, has been released by Newark and Sherwood District Council.

The report by Pre-construct Archaeology gives further details of archaeology found on the plot, owned by the Gascoines Group, and explains how it will be protected during development.

It believes the site was part of a large Medieval burial ground surrounding Southwell Minster, extending from the former site of the Minster School, Church Street, where Roman remains and Saxon burials were found.

A charnel pit, used to deposit bones or bodies of many dead people, was discovered, along with ditches dating back to the Roman period.

A grave was found that included a body laid on its side with head, legs and arms drawn up in a crouched position, along with an iron object believed to be a hinge.

The report suggests the body could have been buried in a domestic chest, as was common between the 8th and 10th centuries.

It said: “If this was the case at Platts Orchard then it could explain why this individual was found in the crouched position and the apparent over-sized nature of the grave cut.”

Other finds included shards of Roman, Medieval and Iron Age pottery, a fragment of antler believed to form part of a comb, and a copper dress fastener from the 15th or 16th Century.

A body from one of the burials has been carbon dated to between 665 AD and 866 AD, which covers the early medieval period known as the Dark Ages, named for the lack of historical information.

The body would pre-date the building of the nave of Southwell Minster.

Members of the town council’s planning committee called for the land where the body was found, which will remain undeveloped, to be opened to the public.

Mr Julian Hamilton called for the council to take action to ensure the land was not lost to the public forever.

He said: “Are we going to take any position to have that open space available for the public?

“There has been a Saxon burial found and we should make sure the town has a say over what happens to that.”

Mr Peter Harris said as planning permission for the site had been granted there was not much the council could do.

The committee referred the matter to the town’s heritage group.

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