North West Wales

Medieval bones discovery at Nefyn maritime museum

skeleton found at Nefyn church Image copyright CR Archaeology
Image caption Much of the skeleton remains intact with only parts of the spine and ribs missing

A grave containing the skeleton of a 12th century woman discovered during museum redevelopment works in Gwynedd could be one of the last known burials of its type in Wales.

The team at CR Archaeology discovered the bones in a stone cist grave beneath a wall at Old St Mary's Church, Nefyn - now a maritime museum - 18 months ago.

Tests confirmed she was aged 60 when she died and was buried around 1180.

The team are now working to find out more about her lifestyle and diet.

Image copyright CR Archaeology
Image caption The skeleton was found in a cist grave underneath a Victorian wall

Archaeologist Matthew Jones, who helped uncover the remains, said the discovery was unusual because while part of the rib cage and spine no longer remained, most of the skeleton was still intact.

This is not often the case for discoveries of this age in Wales because the acidic soil erodes bones, he said.

Mr Jones believes the grave could be one of only a small number of a similar date known in the UK.

Initial tests show the woman was in relatively good health when she died but had arthritis. She had strong bones and muscles but would probably have had a "hard life", Mr Jones said.

Analysis of her bones showed her diet lacked fish, which was unusual as Nefyn was a famous port town at the time she lived.

Further tests are continuing with the hope of finding out more about where the woman came from.

Image copyright Eric Jones/Geograph
Image caption The church where the bones were discovered now houses a maritime museum

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