Fury as housing developers sit on incredible discovery of 42 Anglo Saxon-era skeletons found executed with their hands tied behind their backs
- Property development firm found the remains last year but kept the finding quiet
- The remains may have belonged to Danish prisoners of war in Anglo Saxon times
- Council members have written to the firm urging it to make its findings public
A private building contractor has been slammed for failing to report the discovery of 42 skeletons that could date back to Anglo Saxon times.
The skeletons, some of which had their hands tied behind their backs, were found buried in shallow graves on former farmland in Buckingham in December.
Brio Retirement Living Holdings, which plans to build 72 retirement flats on the site, commissioned an archaeological survey as a condition of winning planning permission.
However, on discovering the skeletons, it had them quietly removed by excavators without reporting to them council, inciting the ire of local authorities.
‘This could be a find of such historical significance that work should stop until a complete understanding of the site is ascertained,’ said Robin Stuchbury, Councillor for Buckingham South.
‘It is of great historical significance to Buckingham and it should not be hushed up.’
The site in Buckingham, Bucks where remains of 40 bodies including some with their hands tied behind their backs have been found buried in shallow graves
It is thought the grisly remains could belong to Danes who were executed by the Anglo Saxons during a failed invasion in the 11th century.
The fact that some of the skeletons still have their hands tied behind their backs suggests they were prisoners of war, according to Mr Stuchbury.
‘We haven’t seen anything of this nature in Buckingham before,’ Mr Stuchbury told MailOnline.
‘Buckingham was an Anglo Saxon town and it was on the boundary of the Daneland.
‘Anything with such a mass amount of bodies suggests to me it could be a St Brice’s Day murder.’
The possibly momentous historical find was at a site off of Brackley Road in Buckingham on the edge of the town
Building work has been put on hold since the discovery and the developers have sent the remains to an archaeological firm who is due to publish a report into the origin of the skeletons
St. Brice’s Day massacre was the killing of Danes on 13 November 1002 by order of the King of England Æthelred the Unready.
Other possibilities may be that the remains date from the English Civil War in the 17th century or possibly even criminals who were hanged on the gallows.
WHO WERE THE ANGLO-SAXONS?
The Anglo-Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th Century AD.
They were made up of Germanic tribes who emigrated from continental Europe, as well as indigenous Britons who adopted their cultural practices.
The Anglo-Saxons were fierce warriors, and tribes often battled one another for territory.
They ruled over Britain from 500 years until 1066 when they were conquered by the Normans.
Mr Stuchbury said the developers were ‘never very forthcoming’ when the remains were found.
‘The fact is, we have a right to know. This is part of our history,’ he said.
‘I am worried, and all the residents are worried who are interested in it.’
Bill Chapple, council member for Buckinghamshire, also said that the skeletons may be Anglo Saxon and likely date back at least 1,000 years – but until the report comes back the town won’t know for sure.
‘When we get the carbon dating back, then we can put more information out,’ he said.
‘We don’t know how they died, we don’t know what gender they are, we don’t know whether they had illnesses or the way they died.
‘It’s an exciting discovery – it’s exciting for Buckingham.’
It is thought the skeletons could date from Anglo Saxon times or from during the English Civil War or possibly even criminals who were hanged on the gallows
Brio Retirement Living Holdings, which had been battling since 2016 for planning permission to build on the site that currently consists of farmland and old barns, finally won on appeal last year.
The company, which is part of property firm Places for People, commissioned an archaeological investigation of the site as a condition of winning planning permission.
Places for People is yet to reply to MailOnline regarding whether excavation work is still taking place at the site since the bodies were removed.
The investigation is being carried out by archaeology firm Network Archaeology, which has offices in Buckingham and Lincoln, and is in the process of writing up a report.
Network Archaeology didn’t respond to a request for comment regarding the availability of the report or when the skeletal remains date from.
All of the skeletons have now been removed, leaving just empty holes in the ground that were their graves, but the site is now secured.
Ground work for the new development of 72 retirement flats on former farmland in Buckingham, Bucks has been put on hold
Buckinghamshire County Council told MailOnline that the post-excavation analysis is currently underway to determine who the people were and how they died.
‘The analysis is a detailed and painstaking process, and is expected to take some months,’ the council said in a statement.
‘There will definitely be an announcement once we have the experts’ report.’
It is not known whether there were any artefacts buried with the bodies that could help date the time of their deaths.
‘Councillors were concerned about the lack of a published archaeological report, and agreed to continue to seek this from the relevant authorities,’ Paul Hodson, Town Clerk for Buckingham Town Council, told MailOnline.
‘The council views this find as part of Buckingham’s heritage – the history of the area is one of the strong attractions of Buckingham.’
WHERE DID THE BUCKINGHAM BODIES COME FROM?
The 42 bodies found in shallow graves on farmland of Brackley Road in Buckingham.
Developers had been working at the site to build new retirement homes – however the discovery has put the building works on hold.
It’s possible that the bodies belonged to Danish warriors who fought the Anglo Saxons in the 11th century.
In particular, the finding could be a relic of the St. Brice’s Day massacre, when King Æthelred the Unready ordered the killing of Danes in the Kingdom of England in November 1002.
It may be another significant dark act carried out either earlier in the dispute between the Vikings in the Daneland.
The remains could also have originated from those killed during the English Civil War in the 17th century or possibly even criminals who were hanged on the gallows.
The uncovered skeletons follows the recent discovery of the incredibly rare Gold Half Angel coin from the reign of Richard III, which is now on display in the Old Gaol museum in Buckingham.
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