Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Medieval remains could lie under planned Shrewsbury college site

A report by Shropshire Council’s Archaeology Service is recommending that a field evaluation is carried out to determine exactly what is below a piece of land at the college in Priory Road.

The area earmarked for the building is thought to have once been part of a cemetery for the Augustinian Friary, known as the Austin Friars, which established its first house in Shrewsbury in about 1254.

Archaeologists say the area has been identified by the Shrewsbury Urban Archaeological Assessment as a “key site” for the recovery of skeletal remains which could provide information on cemetery populations.

The report, produced for the college, says: “The western part of the site, now occupied by SSFC and a children’s playground in The Quarry park, appears to have been the friary’s burial ground.

“It is considered that the cemetery will contain a closed group of remains that would yield data on population and demography, disease and pathology.”

According to the report, at the beginning of the 19th century, the antiquarian Reverend Hugh Owen commented on “the great quantity of human bones that have been from time to time dug up in the precinct” of the friary. In 1910, six human skeletons, one of which was enclosed in lead, were found on the sixth form site at a depth of 2.1 metres during archaeology excavations for the boiler room.

And in 1984, human remains were found at a depth of between 1 metre and 1.5 metres between two of the present college buildings.

The report says that groundworks at the site would have an “adverse effect” on any surviving archaeological remains.

It says: “There is a possibility that human remains of medieval date are located within the study area. In the event of human remains being present, additional statutory and Department of Justice requirements (Burial Act, 1857 and amendments) may apply.”

Under the plans by the college, temporary classrooms would be replaced by a building for the geography, environmental science and geology departments.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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