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Ancient remains reburied in Bicester

The remains of at least 12 people who died more than 1,200 years ago have been reburied, after being unearthed in excavations for a new church centre.

The remains, which included eight full skeletons, were found during excavations for the new Pope John Paul II Centre attached to the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

They had been buried in grave-cuts, oriented east-west in the Christian tradition, but with no evidence of having been enclosed by a coffin. Most were adult females, but one was of a child less than one year old. Carbon dating put the bones’ burial date at between AD 640 and 770.

Their discovery had prompted a disagreement between the church and local archaeologists who wanted the bones put into a museum. However, the Ministry of Justice ruled that they were not of national significance and so could be buried.

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd William Kenney, celebrated a Mass on Saturday 8 October and said: “These are the remains they have left on earth and they should be treated with dignity.”

The remains were interred in the Foynes Memorial Gardens following the service. Bicester-based funeral director Darren Hancock of DL Hancock Ltd conducted the arrangements.

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