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Anglo-Saxon Burial Find Is Re-interred At Wanborough Churchyard

Published on: 22 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 25 Dec, 2016

Human bones thought to be part of an Anglo-Saxon burial have been re-interred in the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s in Wanborough, thanks to co-operation between the local community and Guildford Museum.

Some of those who attended the re-interment of Anglo Saxon bones at St Bartholomew’s Churchyard in Wanborough. Guildford Museum’s Catriona Wilson is pictured third from the left.

In 1964 workmen excavating a garden pond in the garden of the Manor House at Wanborough, found human bones, which were given to the Wanborough Barns Management Committee. Recently they took the find to Guildford Museum for advice from Catriona Wilson, its collections officer. She spoke to an osteoarchaeologist who studies human remains from archaeological sites.

The find included remains from eight to 10 bodies; possibly a child of around five or six years old, plus one older male. The bones were considered to be Saxon due to the associated find of a late Saxon spindle whorl in the same pit.

It was suggested in the 1960s that they could have been the bodies of murdered Saxons, attacked during the Norman Conquest. The Domesday Book records the attack of Wanborough by the Norman army during this period, but these remains are now thought to be Saxon residents of Wanborough who were once buried at the church.

The bones that were re-interred.

Due to the nature of the original find, the bones were of limited scientific interest, therefore the decision was made to reinter them in the churchyard at Wanborough, close to where they were originally found.

Local resident and chairman of the Wanborough Barns Management Committee, Stephen Callender, arranged a service of re-interment, which took place at dawn and included a Saxon prayer.

This was led by the Venerable Adrian Harbidge, Rector of Seale and Sands, Puttenham and Wanborough, and attended by local residents including Dr Henry Sanford, in whose garden the bones were found.

The pond in which the bones were found is just beyond the north-eastern wall of the current church graveyard. This suggested that they had probably been buried in the Saxon churchyard and moved at a later date. They would, therefore have been buried in a Christian ceremony and in consecrated ground, rather than being pagan.

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