Skeleton find reveals long-lost church site

HISTORY: Sue Roberts looks into the trench where the skeleton was found

HISTORY: Sue Roberts looks into the trench where the skeleton was found Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

THE discovery of a skeleton in the back garden of a home in Wallingford has revealed the location of a lost Saxon church.

Detectives were called to Sue Roberts’ home in Reading Road after builders dug up the bones as part of work to make her house more eco-friendly.

Mrs Roberts, 55, had started work to insulate the home’s foundations.

She was out when the builders called to say detectives had swooped on her home and were checking the discovery of the dead body.

But officers quickly found they were dealing with old bones and called in archaeologists.

Now it has emerged the skeleton proves for the first time the precise location of St Lucian’s, one of the town’s oldest known churches.

Wallingford Museum curator Judy Dewey, a member of Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society, said: “Sue called me to say that she had police all over her garden putting blue tape around a group of bones.

“I was happily able to assure her that she wouldn’t be accused of murder!

“She had, in fact, discovered the churchyard of Wallingford’s lost church of St Lucian’s.

“Once the initial shock and excitement had died down, and the police had been satisfied by a qualified archaeologist, Thames Valley Archaeological Services were able to keep a watching brief.”

Mum-of-two Mrs Roberts, who lives with husband Richard Harding, said: “Our house dates back to the 1960s and we wanted to do work to insulate the foundations.

“A local builder found the skeleton and then some other bones were discovered.

“I got a real shock when he phoned up and said he had called in the police.

“When I got back to the house, police had taped off the area where the bones were.

“It wasn’t long before it was clear that these bones were very old, and it’s exciting to think that the location of St Lucian’s Church has now been pinpointed.”

Mrs Roberts said the skeleton had now been reburied in the garden beneath a concrete lintel.

Mrs Dewey, from Cholsey, added that the human remains probably dated from the 12th or 13th century.

She added: “St Lucian’s Church pre-dates the Norman Conquest, so this is an exciting discovery.”

Thames Valley Police spokesman Rhianne Pope said: “The bones were confirmed as being of medieval origin and no further action was required.”

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