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Remains of 20 people re-buried in Bangor

By Claire Williamson

Published 31/05/2015

bangor abbey
bangor abbey

The remains of 20 people have been re-buried during a special service at Bangor Abbey - almost 800 years after they died.

The 10 men, seven women and three children were uncovered at the church during renovation work in 2011.

Mystery surrounds why they were buried within the last standing part of the former medieval monastery near St Malachy's Wall - they had been given Christian burials and died from natural causes.

Canon Ronnie Nesbitt told Sunday Life that similar to the case of King Richard III, when remains are disturbed they must be given a proper re-burial.

He said:"They were buried within an existing ecclesiastical building, so it's quite unusual.

"Sometimes monks might have been buried in an ecclesiastical building, but these included women and children so there is a bit of mystery as to why they were buried there.

"The surprise for us was they were so old, we were expecting burials from the plantation period which wouldn't have been unusual but these date right back to the 13th century."

Experts examining the remains believe they were ordinary people, with signs they would have worked in "hard, strenuous manual work" with signs of wear and tear.

Canon Nesbitt said: "Some of them had abscesses which would have been extremely painful and even some evidence they might have been using their teeth to pull things through while making things.

"Some were buried in coffins because we found coffin nails but others were just buried in a shroud. They were just successive layers of remains of skeletons."

But the main surprise for the church was finding so many.

The cleric said: "The site is so old and has been used as an ecclesiastical site for 1,500 years so it wasn't a surprise to come across remains.

"But to come across so many and where they were because we had dug there before and found nothing."

The re-burial yesterday was marked with a modern funeral service and a headstone has been newly-commissioned.

Belfast Telegraph

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