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31 bodies found in Wimborne Square

By mbarber  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

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Local undertaker Nicholas O’Hara is paying for research to determine the age of skeletons discovered by archaeologists under Wimborne Square.

Excavations were carried out two years ago in preparation for the refurbishment of the area, and human remains were removed under licence in accordance with the Burial Act 1857.

It has now been revealed that 23 skeletons and eight random bones were discovered in three layers.

It is thought that the cemetery developed over several centuries and Mr O’Hara suspects some of the bones may date back to around 1300.

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The area is known to have formed part of a larger cemetery associated with St Peter’s church, a chapel which originally occupied Wimborne Square.

“We are sending a sample of bones from each level to Edinburgh University to be analysed,” said Mr O’Hara, whose company celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“We’ll have to wait six to eight weeks for results of the tests,” he added.

The main excavation was undertaken by The East Dorset Antiquarian Society (EDAS) headed by Gill Broadbent and overseen by Keith Childs. In addition, day-to-day inspection of contractor excavations was carried out by AC Archaeology.

The remains were stored at the Priest’s House Museum and sent to be studied by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Winchester.

At present 31 specially made wooden containers are lying in one of the chapels in Nicholas O’Hara’s head office on Rowlands Hill,Wimborne.

East Dorset District Council has purchased a burial plot in Wimborne Cemetery and the remains will be re-interred at 2pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The service will conducted by the rector of Wimborne Minster, the Rev Vanessa Herrick and residents are invited to attend.

Nicholas O’Hara is to donate a suitable memorial stone to mark the new grave.

Marilyn Barber

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