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Post-Medieval skeletons to be re-interred at St Mary’s Ecclesfield

St Mary's Ecclesfield

A revamp of the grounds at St Mary’s Church in Ecclesfield has led to the discovery of several post-Medieval skeletons.

The discovery was made following improvements to disabled access in the churchyard, leading to the skeletons being disinterred. As a Grade 1 listed church on an ancient site, an archaeologist has to be employed whenever work is done to the churchyard, meaning once the discovery was made the bones were examined by the Archaeology Department at the University of Sheffield before being returned to St Mary’s.

Alongside the fragments of seven skeletons other structures were found, including stones forming the shaft of an external standing stone cross, with archaeologists believing the shaft itself pre-dates the Anglo-Saxon period. The bones will be re-interred at a special service on Wednesday 20th March at 11.30am, with a BCP Burial in the churchyard near to where they were found.

Revd Tim Gill, Vicar at St Mary’s Ecclesfield, said:

“First and foremost, we remember these are human remains that need to be treated not as a spectacle. They need to be buried decently and prayerfully. When they’re reinterred, they’ll be given full Christian burial rites. It would be very easy to turn it into some sort of circus, but it isn’t that at all.

“Of course, there is interest because the discovery itself is unusual. In fact, I couldn’t find anyone who had ever done this before. The archaeologist told me that, given the bodies were buried very close to the church, they were probably significant people. They may be people who had some sort of significance in terms of their faith.

“In the research I did, I discovered that we are supposed to bury them with a service as close as possible to the service that would have been for the original funeral. I’ll be using the 1662 burial rite in full.”