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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A23 medieval bones were "accidentally dumped"


Medieval bones found by the side of the A23 are thought to have been accidently dumped there during the building of the road in the seventies.

A huge police operation was launched last May after road workers found a human jaw near Slaugham.

Now experts believe the remains were dropped there with the bodies of others as part of topsoil from cemeteries.

Forensic archaeologists were drafted in to discover whether the remains belonged to someone who had been reported missing or a murder victim.

But the police file was closed just weeks later after experts said they were of “ancient origin”.

Lucy Sibun, from Archaeology South East, led the investigation on behalf of Sussex Police.

In her report to the coroner she said: “When I began careful investigation and excavation of this topsoil further fragments of human bone were located within it but none of them represented an in situ grave but rather a disarticulated jumble of several individuals.

“Mixed in with them were frag- ments of butchered animal bone and badly degraded ironwork.”

Speaking to The Argus she said that the ironwork was more than likely some form of coffin furniture such as handles or hinges.

She added that the degraded nature of the metal pointed towards the bones being from the medieval to post-medieval period, sometime between the 14th and 18th century.

In her report she explained that the remains, which had all the characteristics of an “archaeological deposit”, appeared to have been in their broken and fragmented state before ending up at their final resting place.

She explained: “They most likely ended up at that site due to the building of the road in the 1970s.

“The topsoil, which is where we found the remains, probably came from a medieval churchyard.

“That could never happen nowadays because if a church wanted to expand or get rid of topsoil we would carry out a thorough search first.”

Without further investigation and a significant amount of funding it is difficult to provide specific details on the remains.

Their true origin will be a mystery as the coroner ordered that the bones should be disposed of.

[Source: Argus]

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