Ancient Human Remains Found at Prison Sewer Site

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.27 - 2024 1:36 PM CET

Photo: Yorkshire Water
Photo: Yorkshire Water
Archaeologists in East Yorkshire have uncovered human remains dating back 4,500 years during the construction of a sewer for a new jail.

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While building a sewer for a new jail in East Yorkshire, England, archaeologists stumbled upon ancient human remains estimated to be 4,500 years old.

The £5 million project, aimed at constructing a 5.2km (3.2 miles) sewer near Full Sutton, also revealed a section of an ancient Roman road and a historical burnt mound.

Close to Stamford Bridge, the unearthed Roman road, bordered by drainage ditches, hinted at a northward path leading to 'Derventio Brigantium' — now known as modern-day Malton.

Ancient Burial Unearthed at Full Sutton

The remarkable discovery at Full Sutton included a burial monument where an individual was found buried in a curled-up position, reminiscent of prehistoric burial practices seen across the UK. This "crouched" burial suggests the site could date back about 4,500 years.

Gavin Robinson of Ecus Archaeology, the team responsible for the excavation, noted the exceptional preservation of the human remains despite the challenging soil conditions.

"The local sandy geology is usually too acidic for human remains to survive, however, the grave had been backfilled with a mixture of burnt stone and charcoal from the adjacent ‘burnt mound’ spread, which seems to have helped the bones survive," he explained.

Interestingly, the grave, devoid of any artifacts, was located near another find—a burnt mound believed to be from the Late Neolithic or Bronze Age.

This mound included a small earth oven and what seemed to be a well, with part of its wooden structure preserved through waterlogging. Soil samples from the well are expected to offer insights into the site's historical use and even preserve remains of ancient plants and insects.

Ecus Archaeology, working on the site for Yorkshire Water, said the three sites give a glimpse into the prehistoric and early historic past of the area.

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