Hereford & Worcester

'Mystery' child's body found on Hereford Cathedral land

The child's body Image copyright Headland Archaeology
Image caption The child is believed to have been aged between 10 and 12

The "mystery" remains of a Saxon child have been found buried on land next to Hereford Cathedral, archaeologists say.

The child, who is believed to have been aged between 10 and 12, was found buried in Hereford Cathedral Close, at the site of a possible Saxon Palace.

The discovery was made during an archaeological dig as part of a £5.4m Heritage Lottery-funded project to restore and landscape the close.

Archaeologists said it was a "mystery" as to how the child came to be there.

'Buried with dignity'

"We are still investigating it," said Andy Boucher, regional manager of Headland Archaeology, which carried out the excavation.

"The child seems to have been a very poorly young person but was buried with dignity."

The excavations also revealed a possible Saxon Palace built near the cathedral between 850 and 950AD.

After the cathedral was plundered and destroyed by fire in 1055, it was rebuilt and the land nearby was used as Hereford's burial ground between the 11th and 19th Centuries.

Image copyright Headland Archaeology
Image caption Archaeologists say the find is a mystery
Image copyright Hereford Cathedral
Image caption The dig was part of a £5.4m Heritage Lottery-funded project to restore and landscape the cathedral's grounds
Image copyright Headland Archaeology
Image caption The remains included a possible Norman knight

Thousands of remains were found, with 700 of the better-preserved burials being studied in more detail.

The remains included a possible Norman knight. A Durham University investigation revealed he had sustained leg injuries consistent with a jousting accident.

Mr Boucher said that although the dig took place between 2009 and 2011, it had taken some time to analyse the finds.

"The burials provided some fascinating information on the health and stresses of daily life in the middle ages in Hereford," he said. A number of the remains were "likely" to be Norman, he added.

"The Cathedral Close project was such a great success and we were delighted with the work," said the Dean of Hereford, the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor.

"In helping to uncover more of the cathedral's history, we have solved some mysteries, but possibly created some more."

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