Human remains up to 1,000 years old found in walls at Pontefract Castle

Human bone fragments found at Pontefract Castle recently could be up to 1,000 years old, experts have said. A right femur (thigh) bone and probable ulna (arm) fragments were uncovered by workmen last week who were clearing earth from the exterior walls of the 15th century King’s Tower, according to a story in the Wakefield Express.

It is part of the castle’s ongoing £3.5 million restoration project. Jenny Craggle, of Wessex Archaeology, who was called to the site said the bones were found 15 feet up the exterior wall of the King’s Tower. She added: “They (the bones) were indeed human, likely to be between 1,000 and 500 years old.
The King’s Tower is located very close to the ruins of an Elizabethan chapel and an 11th century predecessor, and so it is possible that the bones were accidentally disinterred during Victorian ground works.
It appears that the exterior castle walls at the location of the tower were shored up with earth in the 19th century, with the material feasibly taken from close by.
The presence of human remains would indicate that the soil came from the area of chapels within the castle walls, or alternatively from the area of a ruined Saxon church immediately east.”
Julie Russell, spokesperson for Wakefield Council, said: “The bone pieces have been treated with the utmost respect, and we have reported these finds to the relevant authorities. We plan to bury them in consecrated land within the castle following the completion of further archaeological works.”

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Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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