Belfast Telegraph

Medieval skeletons unearthed in Down Cathedral car park

By Staff Reporter

Archaeologists from Queen's University have discovered the skeletons of 12 people during a dig at an ancient religious site.

The remains were unearthed at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. They are believed to date from the 14th or 15th century.

The first remains were found in March when archaeologists excavated an area ahead of erecting a replica St Patrick's Cross.

Brian Sloan, excavation director at Queen's, told the BBC: "We believe it's a medieval burial ground, situated right under the cathedral's car park.

"Tourists have been parking their cars there and the whole time all of this was underneath their feet.

"We're very visible here, right beside the cathedral. Bus loads of US tourists have been coming over to take a look at what we're doing."

Mr Sloan added: "It can be awkward for getting work done, but that's all part of the game.

"But this is a community excavation and we've been inviting people up from the area to come and give it a go.

"This isn't just for archaeologists, it's for the people. This is their area and their history."

Mr Sloan said the remains would be taken to the university for further study.

"The examined remains will be treated with respect. They're not just bones, they're people," he added. "Someone's mother, father, son or daughter.

"They'll be studied to try and determine the age at death, any pathology that indicates how they died or lived. Then they'll come back to the site.

"The dean here has very kindly offered the cathedral for reburial."

Belfast Telegraph

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