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Lost burial site is rediscovered at Quaker Meeting House
THE lost burial spot of human bones in the garden of a quaker meeting house in York has been rediscovered in the nick of time before redevelopment of the site.
The remains were first found 30 years ago during previous works at the Quaker Meeting House, in Friargate.
They were thought to be Christian burials disturbed by the passage of some two centuries.
The bones were reinterred in a wooden casket resembling a child’s coffin and buried next to a Georgian wall with a plaque placed on the wall telling the story of the find.
This summer, archaeologists have been back in the grounds searching for the box before builders move on to build new facilities onto the Meeting House.
But a search of the spot beneath the plaque drew a blank and the team was baffled where to look next – until an elderly visitor to the dig, who recalled the original discovery, pointed them towards a spot a few yards away.
Volunteer Joy Wilkinson, of Old Orchard, Haxby, found an area of soil which was looser than the surrounding earth. She was tapping around with her trowel when she heard it strike something hollow.
The 61-year-old retired Wigginton Primary School teacher said: “I knew what it was straight away.
“We gently uncovered it and then dug around it. It was a plain brown, wooden box with nails in it shaped like a child’s coffin.
“The top had caved in from decay and the pressure of being in the ground for so long. It was very fragile.”
The casket was buried about three feet down and the team had to dig down a further 18 inches to expose it. More works were needed to bring it to the surface because of fears the bottom would fall out.
The dig was directed by Jon Kenny, of York Archaeological Trust’s Community Archaeology, and Dr Andrew Jones, of the Friargate Community Archaeology Project.
The bones were originally found in the early 1980s by the York Excavation Group and reburied by York Quakers. The plaque, now with peeling paint, is thought to have been slightly misplaced so it could be attached to a more suitable stretch of the wall.
Dr Jones said: “We are delighted to have found these remains before the builders move in later in the summer. This project is an example of how professional and volunteer archaeologists can work together to the highest professional standards.”
University of York experts are teaming up with senior York archaeologists to decide what to do with the bones, thought to date from the 18th century.
Anyone who remembers the York Excavation Group dig – or the burial of bones – is asked to contact Chris Edwards at the Meeting House.
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