ARCHAEOLOGISTS are having to remove hundreds of human remains from a medieval burial site in York to pave the way for a council-owned car park to be sold for development.
An emergency funding package of £112,000 has been agreed by York Council to pay for the excavations at the Haymarket car park site in Hungate.
An initial phase of work costing £115,000 had come to an end last week, but experts from the York Archaeological Trust are now faced with removing the remains which were buried only six inches below the surface.
York Council’s archaeologist, John Oxley, said: “It was something of a surprise to find that the burials were so close to the surface. But we will now be able to remove the human remains so that all the archaeological issues are dealt with before the site goes on the market.
“It was seen to be the most cost-effective way forward, rather than having to return at a later date.”
The skeletons which are being removed date from the 11th to 16th century in a burial site which is thought to extend to about 1,000 plots. But the remaining graves are at a greater depth and will not be affected by future development.
The remains will be removed over the next 10 weeks and will either be re-buried elsewhere on the site, or taken to the city’s Yorkshire Museum for further research.
The council confirmed there had been “considerable interest” in the sale of the site, which is due to be used for a commercial development. However, the sale price which the council hopes to achieve has not been disclosed.