Saxon graves found at school

5:12pm Thursday 18th October 2007

WHEN workmen discovered human remains as they cleared a site for new classrooms at a Twyford school, staff briefly thought they had a crime scene on their hands.

The panic soon turned into a historical feast for pupils and teachers alike, however, when it turned out the bones found at Twyford School were more than 1,000 years old.

Now, work on the site has halted as archaeologists try to find out more about what they think is a Saxon burial site - a very rare find.

A full excavation of the area is underway to make sure all remains are recorded and taken away for further investigation.

Paul McCulloch, project manager for Wessex Archaeology, which is carrying out the work, said: "The first time Twyford, which means Two Fords', is mentioned in historical sources is the seventh century.

"We think the burials date right back to this time, about 1,300 years ago.

"Three or four Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of this date are already known around Winchester, including one at Oliver's Battery, and some of the finds there are on display in Winchester Museum."

Although the discovery has caused a delay to the building of the new classrooms, along with a changing room, tractor shed and more parking, it has provided the school's 310 pupils with a real-life history lesson.

History teacher, Heather Hayter, said: "The school is delighted to facilitate this exciting development, which may give archaeologists and historians new insights into life in this area in the first few centuries AD.

"Previously, I have had to describe to children how archaeologists work and to show pictures of Saxon ornaments, but now I have been able to take children and show them this happening just outside the classroom, which has been a really exciting experience of great educational value."

The new buildings are due to be finished in March next year.

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