Blythburgh Priory, Blythburgh, Suffolk
Blythburgh Priory, Blythburgh, Suffolk
2007 - Our first skeleton

By August 2007, we had a heating system in place and had consolidated our ideas for improving the kitchen, utility and fuel storage areas as well as finally allocating a room for an additional first floor bathroom. Whilst Nick, who worked earlier in his building career as an architectural draughtsman, prepared the designs, Alan assisted with the formal application support. This included a Brief Specification of Archaeological monitoring, which had been prepared by Bob Carr, then of SCC Archaeology Services, who as it turned out ended up a few years later as the site’s historic building specialist in relation to the ruins.

With the approval to hand work started in November 2007. The approved archaeological monitoring had been arranged with SCDC Archaeology Service and the foundations were dug out under the scrutiny of the SCDC archaeologist, Clare Good. It was a fairly slow procedure as we uncovered a waste pit, with the usual pottery debris, which needed checking over; nothing, however, of any importance was found and the foundation excavations were signed off and our archaeologist left the site. As we cleaned up the bottom of the foundation trenches we uncovered bones - a skull to be precise. A phone call back to SCDC and our archaeologist returned with her trowel and brushes and notebook.

This was our first skeleton and, of course, we needed to make a major decision once it was recorded; what did we wish to do with it? Lift and pack off in a cardboard box to SCDC or cover with sand and leave in place? We chose the latter to give our new acquaintance some peace and a structural engineer was engaged to redesign the foundations to minimise disturbance to the burial. The bill finally came in from SCDC in February 2008 in the sum of £880.99. Interestingly, the left femur had a clean break right through; the County Coroner was informed of the find.

Our learning curve regarding skeletons, bones and burials had started.