Unearthing History: 7 Medieval Skeletons Discovered on Holy Island, England

Unearthing History: 7 Medieval Skeletons Discovered on Holy Island, England

Builders in the Lindisfarne car park in Northumberland, England, have made a surprising discovery – a group of seven medieval tombs.

According to Chronicle Live, the graves were found just before the New Year by archaeologists from Northumberland County Council during work to install a new water main. The team believes more tombs may be uncovered. The remains have not yet been dated but are believed to be medieval or possibly even early medieval.

Also known as Holy Island, Lindisfarne has a rich history with a monastery founded around 634 by the Irish monk St Aidan. The island was also home to Northumberland’s patron saint, St Cuthbert, who served as abbot of the monastery and later as Bishop of Lindisfarne. The famous Northumbrian figure, St Bede, also chronicled the life of St Cuthbert.

Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Northumberland, England. Source: Michael Conrad / Adobe Stock

Medieval Northumberland

Northumberland, a county in north-east England, was shaped by centuries of political and cultural turmoil from the early Middle Ages to the Middle Ages.

In the early days, the Angles and Vikings ruled the land, leaving their mark on the settlements and trade along the coast. But the Normans were to exert an even greater influence when they conquered the area in the 11th century, building imposing castles and cities, such as the iconic Bamburgh Castle, which was an important center of power and administration.

The Middle Ages also saw the rise of the powerful Percy family, who controlled Northumberland for several centuries and built magnificent castles such as Alnwick Castle, which is still considered the second largest inhabited castle in England.

Religion also played a large role in medieval Northumberland. As well as Lindisfarne Priory, founded by St Aidan, there was also Tynemouth Priory, one of the most powerful monasteries in medieval England, which left a lasting mark on the region.

The Middle Ages were also marked by battles that shaped the fate of the land and people, such as the Battle of Hexham in 1464 and the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

Dating the new skeletal discoveries

BBC reports that Assistant District Archaeologist Nick Best spoke about the findings at a meeting of Ashington and Blyth Local Area Council, saying that “they are very interesting remains” and that the team will be able to get some radiocarbon dates from them . The discovery offers a glimpse into the past and adds to Lindisfarne’s turbulent history.

Picture above: Archaeologists excavating a human skeleton (representative picture). Source: microgene / Adobe Stock.

By Joanna Gillan

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