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Skeleton family set for field reburial

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A group of skeletons discovered in a field near Nether Heyford are to be reburied next week as part of a local archeological project.

The bodies of six people including the skeletons of a woman, three males, an adolescent and a baby date back to the 5th and 6th centuries.

The bodies were discovered in 2004 by metal-detectorists who also found a brooch and sword buried with them. They were then excavated as part of a larger archaeological research project centred on a Roman Villa estate at Whitehall Farm.

Swords, daggers, jewellery and domestic culinary items were also found with the bodies. All the adults were buried with their personal knife and the female with a toasting fork and an earring, which would have come from France.

Owner of the farm, Nick Adams, said: “Two of the males have been carbon-dated to the 5th century. It seems it is quite unusual to find skeletons from that period, more common from earlier (the Roman period) or later (the Anglo-Saxon period).

“It is possible that these two ‘warriors’ were some kind of mercenary, possibly of Germanic origin, who were employed to protect the estate.”

He added: “We are keeping the teeth from each skeleton so that we can analyse whereabouts they were brought up. We are hoping to do some DNA analysis to establish their relationship to each other and to check them against my DNA, as my family have been traced to the village back to at least the mid-17th century – though this is a long shot.”

The ‘family’ are to be reburied near their original resting place now investigation is complete. For information on the project, visit www. whitehallvilla.co.uk

 

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