Enigmatic Skeletons in Britain are Causing Controversy
In Britain, mass graves containing 42 skeletons have been uncovered during a construction project. There is a great deal of mystery about the human remains with regard to their identity and how they died. The delay in providing details of the find is adding to the mystery and has caused some controversy.
The grisly discovery was made during work on 72 retirement homes on a former farm, not far from Milton Keynes , in Buckinghamshire, England. The project is being developed by Brio Retirement Living Holdings.
A satellite view of the site where the skeletons were found, at a farm near a graveyard (top center). ( Google Maps )
According to the MK Citizen the developers last year “had to commission an archaeological investigation of the site as a precondition of winning planning permission”. Under British law, any archaeological find has to be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.
Mysterious Skeletons in Shallow Graves
Some 42 bodies were found and they had all been buried in shallow mass graves. There are some reports that the hands of many of the skeletons had been bound. All the remains have been removed and the graves are now just empty holes. MK Citizen states that with regard to the skeletons “it is not known if there were any artifacts buried with them that could date the time of their death”.
Although Buckingham did once have its own gallows, many hangings and public executions took place in the county town of Aylesbury https://t.co/gQMv18k4ei
— Bucks Herald (@bucks_herald) January 28, 2020
Live Science quotes Robin Stutchey, a local political representative as saying that the shallowness of the burials and the apparent binding of the hands of the skeletons “suggest they were prisoners of some kind”. They may have been Anglo-Saxon prisoners.
The BBC quotes local historian Ed Grimsdale, as stating that the mass graves are from the Anglo-Saxon era and that “it could be one of the biggest finds of its kind”. He suspects that the graves belonged to captives executed, during the 7th to 11th centuries AD.
Were the Skeletons Executed Prisoners?
The remains could also be those of prisoners killed during the English Civil War (1642-1651). This area of England was something of a battleground in the war between the Royalists and Parliamentarians. There are many recorded instances of both sides refusing to give quarter and killing those who had surrendered or been captured.
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Battle between the Parliamentarian army and the Royalist army during the English Civil War. (The Illusional Ministry / Public Domain )
No one yet knows for certain who was buried in the mass grave. This is because of the paucity of information available from the archaeological contractors hired by the developers about the skeletons found on the former farmland. But it is believed that the developers have received an archaeologist report on the finds.
Controversy Over the Skeletons
However, this has not been published or provided to the relevant agency and this has many worried. A representative of the Bucks County Archaeological Service has stated that they “have not seen the report although they are aware of the discovery” according to MK Citizen .
This report should “include descriptions of any artifacts found in the graves as well as the skeletons genders, ages, and details of how they died” according to Live Science . This information could help to determine the age of the dead, how they died, and what era lived in. It could determine if they met their death during the Anglo-Saxon Age or during the English Civil War .
Bayeux Tapestry of Anglo-Saxon Age battle. (Myrabella / Public Domain )
The local council believes that they will receive the archaeological reports in the coming weeks and months. Bill Chapple a member of the local council, is reported by the BBC as saying that “we look forward to sharing the results once we have them”.
However, others are not so patient and are suspicious of the delay. The Sun quotes councilor Stuchbury as saying that “this find is of great historical significance to Buckinghamshire and it should not be hushed up”. This report of the archaeological contractors, it is hoped, will allay local concerns and also resolve the mystery of the mass grave .
Top image: Representation of the mass grave of skeletons discovered in Milton Keynes, England. Source: antecessor / Adobe Stock.
By Ed Whelan