UK Olympics site holds mass grave
15th June 2009
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Unearthed under a road being built for the 2012 Olympics is an ancient burial pit containing 45 severed skulls plus a tange of torsos and limbs. Thought to be a mass war grave dating back to Roman times, archaeologists excavating the site don't yet know who the bones belong to. They do think though that the dismembered bodies are likely to be native Britons from the Iron age, but they don't yet know who killed them, how and why.

It is unclear whether the grave results from infighting, Roman executions or Roman battle victims. The bones and skulls were found at Ridgeway Hill where a new relief road for Weymouth is being constructed. (Weymouth is to host sailing events fot he UK Olympics)

The burial pit is near Maiden Castle - Europe's larges Iron Age hill fort - where local tribes apparently staged a 'last stand' against the Roman invaders. Claudius' legions subdued the Celtic tribes throughout Western England aftger they landed in 43AD, and some historians say that they sacked Maiden Castle and butchered the entire population before it was burned to the ground.

Most of the skulls found at the site were those of young men, which supports the theory of battle killings or mass execurion, so the remains will be checked for sword cut marks and signs for pre or post mortem severance.

Another theory is that the remains could be those of indigenous people or Roman citizens who had died of disease or as the consequence of a disaster of some description. There haven't been many contemporary artefacts found with the bodies, although early Roman and late Iron Age pottery shards were found scattered around the pit.

If you're interested in local history, then why not visit Stamford Museum? It's free and there are always interesting displays on view.

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