A BROTHER and sister hosted their own archaeological open day after workmen uncovered skeletons in their back garden.
Work was being carried out on an extension to the Hannigans’ home in Faringdon Road, Abingdon, when builders found the remains of four bodies.
And after police, forensic scientists and archaeologists ascertained the bones were at least 100 years old – meaning there would be no criminal investigation required – Lucy and Joe Hannigan, 10 and nine, invited their classmates at Our Lady’s, Abingdon, to have a look.
Lucy said: “It was cool, but freaky at the same time, especially as it was quite dark when I first saw them.”
Her brother Joe added: “You don’t find skeletons very often in your back garden so it was weird and amazing, but also very interesting at the same time.
“It was a little awkward having all the children in the school, including my friends, in my back garden.
“Now everyone knows what my house looks like.”
More than 100 pupils got a minibus to the garden last week and were offered the opportunity to handle the remains.
In 1977, a dig at a nearby house uncovered 19 burials – estimated to date to the 1200s – which were thought to be part of a medieval cemetery. The skeletons are believed to be part of the same burial site.
Our Lady’s Junior School headteacher Brendan O’Neill said pupils were using the discovery as a springboard for literacy work.
He said: “Children have written reports and drawn pictures and talked about the skeletons. The Year 6 class looked into the 1977 discovery as background before they went to have a look.”
Niamh Hannigan, Lucy and Joe’s mother, said they had been aware of the discoveries in the house nearby in the 1970s but had been led to believe they were unlikely to extend to their own property.
She said: “The children were fascinated – my older daughter Catherine, who is 13, less so. They thought it was cool to have such an interesting history in your garden.
“It was super to have the children round and I am looking forward to seeing some of the work they have done on the back of it.
“If it’s anything like the garden a few doors down, there could well be more that hasn’t been uncovered.
“You need not to be ghoulish, and luckily we’re not.”
The skeletons were found while digging foundations for an extension to provide an office at the home, and have now been concreted over – with permission from the authorities – so work can continue.