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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Medieval skeletons uncovered
medieval skeleton
The skeletons are in excellent condition
Three skeletons dating back at least to the 14th century have been discovered in the town centre of Malmesbury.

The skeletons, were found on a building site near the old medieval abbey, on what experts believe was probably a burial ground.

Most of the old burial ground in the Wiltshire town was disturbed when a cinema was built on the site in the 1930s, but the skeletons have survived in excellent condition.

Archaeologists are now trying to find out more about the skeletons before they are re-interred.

Well-preserved

Christopher Kent, managing director of site developers, Chase Homes, said: "I must admit that when the call came through from the site manager, I just couldn't believe it so I shot up from my office.

"It is all very interesting."

The discovery has led to crowds of onlookers turning up at the site.

Cliff Bateman of the Cotswold Archaeological Trust said: "These people were probably related to the abbey.

Medieval skeleton
The skeletons are probably more than 700 years old
"They were evidently Christian, because the bodies were laid out east to west but I don't think we'll find out a lot more about them."

"I personally think the proper thing to do is to give them a decent Christian burial."

Town mayor, Councillor John Bowen said: "We knew something was potentially underneath because it was on the site of one of the old chapels, but a dig was done two years ago and nothing was found.

"There was a relocated entrance to the abbey in 1285 and there'd been a chapel on the site probably since Anglo-Saxon times.

"I think the skeletons are from people almost certainly affiliated to the abbey because they were found within the old abbey confines."


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