Skeleton and firearms found at Bressingham pub

The reconstruction of a fire-ravaged pub in south Norfolk has suffered a delay after builders discovered a skeleton and cache of firearms.

Archaeologists and police were called to the Chequers Inn at Bressingham, near Diss, after pre-17th century human remains and second world war American guns and ammunition were found buried at the site.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances behind the two burials which were discovered by contractors rebuilding the historic pub that was destroyed last year.

The skeleton, which predates the construction of the public house more than 400 years ago, was found buried inside the listed building, near the rear wall, and is believed to have been a Christian burial.

The firearms – five Browning pistols and a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition – were made between 1942 and 1944 and were found on the outside of the pub wall.

South Norfolk police inspector Gavin Money, who attended the discovery two months ago, said the finds were not being actively investigated by Norfolk Police, but archaeologists were trying to find out more about the skeleton and firearms.

'They [the guns] are in a pretty poor condition and we do not know why they were there. It was a pub during and after the war but the chances of finding out are quite limited. Once the archaeology team were involved and established that the body predated the building, it was not something we would progress. There could be something sinister, but it would be very difficult to take it further,' he said.

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The weapons and ammunition, which are in storage at Diss police station, will either be destroyed or sent to a museum following inspection by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service. The body will be buried on consecrated ground once archaeologists from Norwich-based NAU Archaeology have finished their investigations.

A spokesman for Enterprise Inns, which owns the pub which was wrecked in a thatch fire last October, said the rebuild had been delayed by a few weeks whilst the site was investigated, but work had resumed. The company hopes to reopen the pub in spring 2011.