Wiltshire

Ancient cemetery discovered at Wiltshire MoD site

Saxon cemetery unearthed in Bulford, Wiltshire
Image caption The graves were found during preliminary work at the site

Up to 150 ancient graves along with spears and jewellery have been found on land earmarked for Army accommodation.

The Saxon burial site was unearthed near Bulford in Wiltshire, on land where 227 new homes are planned.

Described as a "domestic cemetery", archaeologists said it was a resting place for "everybody from new born babies to the elderly".

Knives and combs made of bone were also found at the site, believed to date back to the 7th and 8th centuries.

Cavalry horseshoes believed to date from World War One and World War Two portable anti-tank weaponry were also discovered during work on the Ministry of Defence-owned land.

Image caption One of the burials was carbon dated to between AD 660 and 780, which falls in the mid-Saxon period in Britain

Jackie McKinley, of Wessex Archaeology, said: "It's all laid out carefully in rows, so this is a planned, organised cemetery for a settlement.

"This particular cemetery is interesting because of its date. Most [graves] in this area tend to be from the earlier part of the Anglo Saxon period but what we've got here is predominantly 7th century into the 8th century."

Her colleague Si Cleggett said: "The occupiers of these graves are Germanic and they represent 6% of our modern day British DNA."

The site is being developed as part of wider plans to accommodate 4,000 extra troops and their families, including personnel currently based in Germany, in the county by 2019.

Image caption The skeletons have been removed

Mr Cleggett said it was "profound" that Army housing was being built on the site.

"We are bringing back 30,000 troops from Germany and the occupiers of these graves are Germanic," he said.

"On top of that we have World War One material here.

"If I was a member of one of the service families who were coming back to live here, I'd be the happiest man on the planet and in fact I'd probably put a glass floor in."

The skeletons have been removed and will be taken to be analysed by staff from Wessex Archaeology.

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