13th century stillborn found at Huntingdon dig

stillborn baby skeleton dating back to 13th or 14th century

stillborn baby skeleton dating back to 13th or 14th century - Credit: Archant

A BABY’S skeleton from the medieval period is among artefacts found by archaeologists excavating the site of the Huntingdon link road.

Experts identified the child as a stillborn of about the 28 to 36-week stage of pregnancy and the tiny remains could have been there since the 13th century.

The infant skeleton was one of several pieces of new evidence of medieval settlement at a site near Ermine Street – other finds include a blacksmith’s hearth, a cobbled street and pottery dating back to the 11th Century.

Archaeologists at the site believe they may have only scratched the surface of the area they are excavating, which is thought to be in the vicinity of the lost church of St Andrew’s and a former Roman road.

Senior project manager for the Oxford Archaeology East team Aileen Connor said the baby was most likely stillborn.


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“One possibility is that the baby was born dead and that they have buried it in the house,” she said.

Another possibility, although less likely according to Mrs Connor, is the baby could have been given a church burial at St Andrew’s.

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“It is possible that if we’re on the edge of a church yard we will find more human remains,” Mrs Connor said. “However, it’s all looking like houses at the moment.”

The evidence of housing is a new development because the site is outside the known extent of the medieval settlement of Huntingdon. Experts have said there appears to be a cobbled street, indicating a number of dwellings.

Mrs Connor said: “It’s all about building up a story of how the site relates to Huntingdon.”

Also uncovered are a blacksmith’s hearth, which may have been a small trade serving a few families, and pottery which dates back to the period shortly after the Norman Conquest.

The excavations are expected to continue until early June and there will be a series of archaeological events held at the Cromwell Museum during the dig.

An archaeologist will be on hand at the museum every other Wednesday from April 10 to explain the finds that will be on display. Information boards at Huntingdon Library will have regular updates on what is happening at the site.

INFORMATION: If you would like to get involved and volunteer to help with the dig, you can pick up an application form from Huntingdon library.

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