1. ITV Report

110 Anglo-Saxon skeletons to be laid to rest in Bamburgh

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon settler found at Bamburgh Credit: Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership

The final committal of 110 Anglo-Saxon skeletons into the crypt of St Aidan’s Church Bamburgh is going to take place this Friday.

A special service, open to the public, is planned after remains from Anglo-Saxon times were excavated from dunes at the base of Bamburgh Castle.

They were dug up over a period of time between 1998-2007 by the Bamburgh Research Project.

Now, after years of research by the Bamburgh Research Project and Durham University in partnership with Bamburgh Castle Estate, the skeletons to their final resting place (at St. Aidan’s Church)

Evidence used to date the remains suggests below to some of the earliest Christian converts in Northumberland from between 650-700AD.

The cemetery where they were found contained men and women and children, analysis of their bones reveals that led healthy lives - leading to speculation that the cemetery was associated with the Royal Court of King Oswald.

The evidence also shows that they were a truly cosmopolitan population originating from all across Europe so like today, people lived and worked in in the coastal village of Bamburgh or travelled from far and wide to visit it.

The ceremony is the culmination of two years’ work by Bamburgh Heritage Trust and the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership to create the special ossuary in the crypt of St. Aidan’s.

“It is incredibly fitting and moving that the final resting place for the Bowl Hole skeletons is in the crypt of St. Aidan’s Church.

It is tantalising to think the some of these people could have actually heard St. Aidan preach on the same site as we know St. Aidan founded his church here in 635AD.”

– Jessica Turner of the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership
The remains of an Anglo-Saxon settler found at Bamburgh Credit: Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership

Who were the Anglo-Sexon skeletons when they were alive?

  • • An older Bamburgh woman, aged 65+
  • • An older man, aged 60+, originally from Scandinavia
  • • A young Irish woman, aged about 25, whose skeletal remains show she was almost certainly a weaver or needle-worker including a wear to the right central incisor from the repeated clasping of an instrument like a needle between her teeth.
  • • A child of about 9 with both baby and adult teeth present in the skull, the isotopes show the baby
  • teeth (neonatal stage) formed in the southern Mediterranean and then adult teeth formed (early childhood) in France
  • • A young man of about 17-20 years with evidence of a sword strike down his left hand side which cut through his left clavicle, scapula, ribs, pelvis and knee
  • • A man aged about 25 from the Mediterranean who suffered from gout
  • • A Hebridean man of about 45 who was almost certainly a contemporary of St Oswald