The cemetery associated with St. Morrell’s Chapel, excavated by the HFWG have raised more questions than answers. Who were the people buried here and why was this hill overlooking the village chosen for their final resting place rather than the village church?
Burial close to a saint or saint’s relics were felt to be a favoured location amongst medieval Christians. It is possible that if the area attracted sick and damaged people on pilgrimage, the chapel’s burial ground might have been reserved for pilgrims. Alternatively these might be the graves of people that the church didn’t want in its consecrated ground – criminals, witches or even foreigners. The practice of placing stones on bodies might be unusual in England but in Eastern Europe so called ‘Vampire burials’ use stones to hold down the bodies and keep the dead from rising.
A new project is underway to try and find more information out about the burials. Using analysis of dietary isotopes we hope to be able to identify where these people came from, where they grew up and how they lived. Check back soon for updates on out progress!