HS2 contractors plan to exterminate 3,000 bodies found in a Buckinghamshire cemetery on the way to the new high-speed rail link.
Archaeologists excavating a site at Old St Mary’s Church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, which was built shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1080 AD, have discovered the ancient burial site in the cemetery. St Mary’s Cemetery has been in use for 900 years, with the last recorded burial in 1908. Around 3,000 graves are expected when the cemetery is fully excavated.
The exhumation is not the first during the development of the controversial rail link. In 2017, an estimate 60,000 bodies were unearthed from an ancient burial site at Euston Station. The bodies were then buried again at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.
The old church was renovated in the 13th, 14th and 17th centuries. It played a central role in the community and was the subject of various extensions and the construction of a brick bell tower.
The old church was abandoned and fell into disrepair following the construction of a new church closer to the center of the village in the 1880s. In 1966 the building was considered so dangerous that the Royal Engineers were enlisted. to demolish it.
The site of St Mary is considered unique and the team of 40 archaeologists working there hope the excavations will help them understand the history of this place of worship, how its use and meaning have changed over time and what what it meant to the community of Stoke Mandeville. .
Helen Wass, Heritage Manager for HS2, said: “HS2’s unparalleled archaeological program is well underway and the start of work at St Mary’s provides an exceptional opportunity for archaeologists to experience and shed light on the life of the Stoke community. . Mandeville over such a period. All artefacts and human remains discovered will be treated with dignity, care and respect and our findings will be shared with the community through open days and expert conferences.
Archaeological work on the site began in 2018, revealing well-preserved walls and structural features of the church. In October last year, HS2 revealed that unusual stone carvings, medieval graffiti and other markings had been unearthed, with questions raised as to whether they were sundials or markings of witchcraft.
Over the next six months, a team of archaeologists, assisted by engineers, will remove the remaining structure of the church and search all the bodies buried in the cemetery.
Mark Keir, a Green Party member and longtime activist against HS2, said that while the Stoke Mandeville Church site was being excavated, other sites of potential interest were not.
“Dews Farm in Harefield, recently demolished by HS2, saw no archeology, neither the main building nor the outbuildings being allowed to reveal their Elizabethan secrets. Jones’ Hill Wood, the magnificent ancient gem of Chiltern downed at this time, has not seen any archeology, despite the community of activists living on the camp there finding a Neolithic hand ax, among many more simple scrapers and flint tools “, did he declare.
He added that HS2 had caused controversy and upheaval in the communities crossed by the high-speed line. “Perhaps HS2 would like to give the same respectful and delicate care that it claims to be shown to exhumed bodies to those who are very much alive and increasingly angry in the communities they pass through.”
HS2 workers to exhume 3,000 bodies in Buckinghamshire cemetery | HS2
Source link HS2 workers to exhume 3,000 bodies in Buckinghamshire cemetery | HS2