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Ancient burials found under Lichfield Cathedral
Archaeological dig
Past digs have unearthed priceless treasures, such as the Lichfield Angel

Three ancient burials have been unearthed at Lichfield Cathedral.

It follows an archaeological investigation in the Chapter House by Cathedral Archaeologist Kevin Blockley.

For the last 750 years, two of the skeletons have lain just below the floor of the Chapter House, which was originally built in the 1240s.

The dig was in preparation for the Staffordshire Hoard Temporary Exhibition which is due to take place later this summer.

Christian burial

Kevin Blockley of Cambrian Archaeological Projects Limited said: "These two burials are evidently Christian as they were aligned east-west."

"The fact that the burials were in shrouds, not coffins suggests that they involved lay members of the Cathedral community."

One skeleton, of an adult male, was removed for analysis and will later be reburied in accordance with current guidelines.

"Parts of this skeleton (skull, lower jaw, one femur and both feet) were missing, almost certainly because it was damaged during the construction of the Chapter House in the 1240s," said Mr Blockley

"The second skeleton lay just below the construction level. It has been left in situ," he added.

The third burial appears originally to have taken place in medieval times, after the Chapter House was completed. It was subsequently disturbed during renovations to the building during the Victorian period, and re-buried.

Carbon testing

This burial was of an infant, presumably associated with a more high status individual within the Cathedral community.

It is not possible to establish who this was, although carbon testing might narrow down the original burial date.

The Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, Canon Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral, explained: "In order to prepare the Chapter House to host a display of over forty items from the Staffordshire Hoard in July and August, we had to lift up sections of the floor, where cabling for new display cases will be laid."

"It is an intriguing possibility that these beautiful pieces of gold and garnet Saxon jewellery will be displayed only feet above what we now know may have been a place of Saxon burial," added Revd Wilcox.

For further information about the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition, visit their website: www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk

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