Ancient bones discovered in Minster dig

Field Officer Ian Milsted uncovers human bones during the dig at York Minster. Picture by Gerard Binks
Field Officer Ian Milsted uncovers human bones during the dig at York Minster. Picture by Gerard Binks
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HUMAN remains thought to date back to before the 12th century when York Minster was built have been found in the first archaeological dig at the site in 40 years.

The collection of bones, including four skulls, was found on Tuesday in the dig which is due to last three weeks and is being conducted while a lift shaft is created into the undercroft.

The York Archaeological Trust has yet to establish the age of the remains, but it is thought they could pre-date the 12th century before the Minster as it appears today was constructed.

Lead archaeologist Ian Milsted said the dig was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to learn more about the cathedral’s history. The last dig took place between 1967 and 1972 while underpinning work was carried out.

The Dean of York, Keith Jones, said: “York Minster’s walls have been witness to centuries of human life and I feel sure that archaeologists are likely to encounter even more human burials during their three-week tenure – we would expect to find, when working at York Minster, evidence of previous life all around the place. Having found the remains of our forebears, they will be reverently cared for until such time as they can be re-interred.”

The lift is being created for the spring next year as part of the £10.5m York Minster Revealed project, which is aimed at attracting a wider audience to the cathedral.