Page last updated at 18:42 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Medieval corpse funeral planned

Hoo St Werberg Parish Church
The remains were unearthed by archaeologists six years ago

A funeral service will be held in Kent for a corpse believed to be up to 700-years-old.

The remains of the teenage girl were found six years ago by archaeologists at unconsecrated ground next to Hoo St Werberg Parish Church in north Kent.

The public service, organised by the vicar of Hoo with the support of a local funeral director, will take place at 1200 GMT on 14 March.

Since the discovery the corpse has been kept at the University of Kent.

The Reverend Andy Harding, the vicar of Hoo, said the location of the remains and the fact that the head had been removed before burial suggested the girl may have committed suicide or been executed.

"There was a belief in the middle ages that after death the spirit came back into the head. If the body was was not attached, it could not come back to life.

"This site is just outside the church walls, and we believe that it would have been the unconsecrated part of the church yard, where executed criminals or people who committed suicide were buried," he added.

Paul Hawden, a funeral director in Hoo, said he and his staff had agreed to help with the event.

"We all would like the girl to have a Christian burial so all my staff and I have decided to help her."

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