York & North Yorkshire

Ancient skeleton found in North Yorkshire sewer trench

Skeleton found in a sewer in Norton, North Yorkshire
Image caption The discovery was made by contractors working on sewers under Sutton Street in Norton-on-Derwent

An ancient skeleton, thought to date back to Roman Britain, has been discovered in a sewer trench.

Contractors from Yorkshire Water were installing sewers in Norton near Malton when they made the discovery.

Chris Pole, of Northern Archaeological Associates, said the site was formerly a Roman cemetery.

The "remarkably intact" skeleton has been removed for tests to determine its age, sex, and, if possible, a cause of death.

Two new sewers were being installed under Sutton Street in the village of Norton-on-Derwent when the skeleton was found two metres below the road.

Image caption The skeleton was found in a sewer on Sutton Street in Norton-Upon-Derwent, North Yorkshire

Mr Pole, the project archaeologist for the site, said a Roman cemetery was located alongside the adjacent Langton Road, which follows a similar line to a Roman road leading south-east from the Roman fort at Malton and the settlement of Derventio (Norton).

Mr Pole said bodies were not buried within the limits of a town in Roman times because this was regarded as unclean.

Because of the position of the skeleton there was also a chance it could be older than Roman, Mr Pole said.

"It was in a crouched or foetal position, possibly mirroring birth and was located within the limits of a Roman cemetery but it has similarities with burials of prehistoric date," Mr Pole said.

"No grave goods were placed with the burial," he added.

Other skeletons were uncovered nearby when St Peter's Church was built in the 19th century.

The skeleton has been taken to archaeological offices in Barnard Castle for further analysis.

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