Plaque commemorates medieval Jewish remains at Chapelfield

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, d

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, during the excavation of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre site. Lord Mayor Judith Lubbock pulls the cord to unveil the plaque. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A plaque commemorating the discovery of the remains of 17 Jewish people killed 850 years ago was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Norwich.

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, d

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, during the excavation of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre site. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Judith Lubbock joined Jewish and Christian leaders in the ceremony, which was attended by nearly 150 people.

'This story of violence is all too familiar to us today,' Mrs Lubbock said, adding: 'Future generations will see that people from both faiths came together to respectfully bury the remains in 2013.'

Clive Roffe, the Norwich representative on the Board of Deputies of British Jews led the campaign to have the remains of six adults

and eleven children buried in a consecrated Jewish ceremony in Norwich.

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, d

The unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 17 skeletons, thought to be from the Jewish community, during the excavation of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre site. Alex Bennett, right, former minister of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation; with Bishop David Gillett, interfaith advisor to the Bishop of Norwich; and Lord Mayor Judith Lubbock. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015


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The remains, dated between 1150 and 1300, were found in a well shaft during the construction of the Chapelfield Shopping Centre in 2004.

Research was conducted by the BBC History Cold Case programme into the find and tests in 2011, although not conclusive, showed DNA was consistent with Jewish communities and the site was a known medieval Jewish settlement.

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It was not until March 2013 that the bones were laid to rest in a traditional Jewish ceremony.

Mr Roffe said: 'We hope at this time in our troubled world that this act of respect and reconciliation may help in some way to attempt to bring peace and understanding to all faiths.'

The Jewish population of Norwich thrived after being invited by Norman conquerors but persecution grew and they were expelled from England in 1290.

The Sheriff of Norwich, Joe Stirling, was in attendance, and his predecessor, John Jennings, attended the burial of the remains. In the 11th century the sheriff gave sanctuary to some fleeing Jews in Norwich Castle.

Bishop David Gillett, interfaith advisor to the Bishop of Norwich, said: 'In a world where there is still too much violence in the name of religion, we are here to work together for peace and justice.'

The crowd gathered outside the shopping centre to watch the unveiling and heard prayers in Hebrew and English.

Two police community support officers and two security guards

from intu Chapelfield were

present.

The past weeks have seen the terrorist attacks across Europe targeting the Jewish community amid rising tensions since the attacks in Paris in January.

Do you have a story about interfaith co-operation? Email george.ryan@archant.co.uk

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