Roman cemetery found on Co-op development in Caistor

One of the skeletons Bodies of men, women and children were discovered

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Archaeologists have found what is thought to be a 4th Century Roman cemetery on the site of a supermarket development in Caistor.

The discovery was made at the site of the derelict Talbot Inn, as builders moved in to build a new Co-op store.

Archaeologists found 46 sets of human remains, including whole skeletons.

Caistor is thought to have been a Roman military post, but experts said they believed it was the first time a burial site had been found there.

Archaeologists moved in after six sets of human remains were found during the pre-planning process.

Start Quote

It's always nice when we find human remains that will give us some indication of the population, the profile of the people”

End Quote Colin Palmer-Brown Archaeologist

A licence was obtained from the Ministry of Justice allowing the exhumation.

Under its terms, the bodies have to be kept safely and privately until they are reburied. This has to be within two years of discovery.

The remains will now be cleaned and examined by an osteologist, when experts hope to find out details such as gender, approximate age, and even if the people involved had suffered from any illness or injury.

Archaeologist Colin Palmer-Brown said: "It's always nice when we find human remains that will give us some indication of the population, the profile of the people.

"We know this is a mixed cemetery, there are men, there are women, there are children in it."

Archaeologists believe the graves date from the fourth century.

He added: "Burial traditions change over time and the fact that these appear to be Christian suggests this cemetery dates back to the late Roman period, around the 4th Century AD after the Emperor Constantine I legalised Christian worship in AD313.

"Traditionally, Roman cemeteries are outside city walls and in this case the burials are around 50m to the north of the settlement walls. Shards of pottery found alongside the graves strengthen the case for this being a late-Roman cemetery."

A Co-op store is due to be built on the site and is expected to be open by the autumn, possibly with a display about the history of the site.

Previous to this discovery in Caistor, other Roman cemeteries have been found in Lincoln, Ancaster and Navenby.

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