Reburials of Iron Age and Romano-British Remains

This first hand report recently filed by one of HAD’s volunteers (recording events before becoming involved with HAD) is reproduced here in full.


A dig at Hayton, close to the A1097, between York and Brough-on-Humber revealed three early Iron Age (450-250BC) infant burials, three cremation burials and the virtually complete skeleton of a Romano-British male, probably of the early 4th century AD. The excavation jointly directed by the, now, Dr Peter Halkon and the, now, Professor Martin Millett took place over the summers of 1996 and 1997 (and in which I took some part) revealed two Iron Age round houses which were eventually replaced by a small rectangular “villa” type building with the later addition of a bath house. Three cow burials in ditches and three burials of sheep bones (possibly relics of ritual feasting) were also found. Since only half of the grave of the adult Romano-British male, found under the hedge bordering Burnby Lane, had been excavated by the the end of the scheduled 1996 dig exposing only his lower half, he was affectionately nicknamed “Arfur”. He was fully revealed the following year in a semi-sitting posture, chin resting on his right hand, but separated from it by the jawbone of a dog. One can only speculate that he may have been an an occupant of the Roman type farm house. The local farmers, and their families, very proud to discover their historic past had been keen for archaeological investigation to take place on their lands. After allowing time for due study of their ancestors’  remains they themselves organised the reburials which took place, with minimal or no ceremony, in a nearby  field, and without trying to reproduce the original positions, (a sensible thing in light of ignorance of the the ritual meanings involved) and without any memorial stones, ensuring an undisturbed future.
Maureen Berlin

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