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Graves unearthed in Caistor dated to seventh century

An exciting excavation in Caistor could prove to be "sensational" should carbon dating results prove it contains remains from late Roman to Middle Saxon times. 

Site supervising archaeologist Fiona Walker works on a full length skeleton found at the old Talbot Inn site in Caistor prior to the building of the Co-operative store opened in late 2010 [Credit: Grimsby Telegraph]
As reported, the Talbot Skeletons were found during a dig which took place before the building of the Caistor Co-operative store two years ago. 

Carbon dating on two of the skeletons has revealed they are not from the Roman era as originally believed, but from the seventh century, which was during the Anglo Saxon period. 

Though more work – such as dating the other skeletons, liaising with specialists in Middle Saxon burials, and comparative research needs to be carried out when funds allow – the news has already seen the results of the dig described as a "spectacular" find. 

Alan Dennis, of the Caistor Heritage Trust, said: "If the site turns out to be Middle Saxon only, then that's exciting, but if it turns out to be late Roman to Middle Saxon, then that's sensational as there is only one similar site in Lincoln – which is St Paul in the Bail, and they only had a few skeletons. Caistor has more." 

At about the same time as the skeletons were being studied, Dr Steve Willis, of the University of Kent, was carrying out some archaeological investigations of a Roman settlement a little way out of Caistor, where an inscribed lead sheet was unearthed. 

Dr Tomlin, of Oxford University, confirmed the inscription was written in New Roman Cursive and therefore of a later Roman date. 

He was also able to discern the words "thief", "woman" and a repeated name that he describes as "strange" and believed it could be a curse tablet. 

The find also reveals that, on the Wolds at this time, people were literate, understood the language of the Empire and commonly communicated using it, and were also familiar with writing Latin and employing it in a normative manner to communicate with the Gods. 

Mr Dennis said: "According to Dr Willis, this is a dynamic era in this part of Britain which sees the emergence of major industries, such as iron working, pottery production, quern manufacture and, in the Iron Age, coin minting. 

"Fieldwalking has identified and characterised a series of sites, while excavations have explored the prehistoric landscape and a Roman roadside settlement with a series of major stone buildings. 

"This is spectacular news to help us have a better idea of Roman and Anglo-Saxon Caistor." 

Source: Grimsby Telegraph [April 30, 2012]

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