Skeletons found at Thetford town centre construction site

PUBLISHED: 09:24 16 October 2012

The sites in King Street, Thetford where building work has been held up after the discovery of skeletons. Photograph Simon Parker

The sites in King Street, Thetford where building work has been held up after the discovery of skeletons. Photograph Simon Parker


Remnants of Thetford’s medieval past have been uncovered with the discovery of two skeletons on the site of a former church.

Workmen, alongside an archaeologist from Norfolk County Council, made the surprise discovery as they excavated land in St Giles Car Park.

The work is part of regeneration plans to create a new public performance stage on King Street and a clock tower between King Street and St Giles Lane. The latter is the site of the former St Giles Church.

Norfolk County Council resident engineer, Tim Ellis, who is leading the project, said it was possible more skeletons could be found as excavation works continued.

“One of the areas is next to where they found the skeletons so there’s probably a 50/50 chance,” he said. “There have been previous road works there so there have been a lot of people go through that car park and it’s a bit hit and miss really - that’s why we have someone watching over.

“It’s not everyday you find skeletons but I think the men took it in their stride and the archaeologist knew the process to go through.”

Mr Ellis said the workmen were forced to stop for about three days, which has set the works back by the same amount.

“We had an archaeologist on site as part of the works because it’s got some historic interest and as soon as we uncovered it we had to stop the works and they had to apply for a licence to exhume them,” he said.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Moving Thetford Forward panel, which funded the £600,000 scheme, acting town clerk Susan Glossop said it was possible the contractors would work at weekends to get the job finished on time, but that care would be taken not to disturb businesses and people living nearby.

She added that it had been decided the clock tower, which when complete will consist of a seven-metre-high timber arched frame with modern bronze tower bells, lighting and hedging, inspired by etchings of the former St Giles church, would chime between 9am and 5pm but that they could be turned off if people found them a disturbance.

The works are expected to be completed by early December.

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