Ocky White: 240 skeletons from 13th century found beneath a former department store in Wales
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 240 people within remnants of a medieval priory.
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The discovery was made under the Ocky White building in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
The archaeologists believe the ruins come from the St Saviour’s Priory, which was founded by a Dominican order of monks in about 1256.
Experts have described the discovery as “hugely significant”. The skeletons of over 240 people were found, with around half of the remains thought to be children.
The remnants of the site are believed to have comprised a complex of buildings including dormitories, a hospital and stables, along with a graveyard that could have been used until the early 1700s.
Site supervisor Andrew Shobbrook, from Dyfed Archaeological Trust, told the BBC said the remains uncovered show evidence of the type of injuries that might be sustained during battle. He suggested some of the deceased could have been victims of a siege carried out on Haverfordwest in 1405 by French and Welsh rebels.
The significant presence of child remains could be due to high child mortality rates at the time. The remains are due to be analysed by experts before being reburied on consecrated ground nearby.
Mr Shobbrook told the BBC: “It’s quite a prestigious place to be buried. You have a range of people, from the wealthy to general townsfolk.”
Speaking to the BBC, archaeologist Gaby Lester said: “The site is showing itself to be massive part of the history of Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire.
“It can be slightly overwhelming at times but it’s also quite humbling to be part of that person’s journey.”
Department store Ocky White closed down in 2013. Dyfed Archaeological Trust is working on the riverfront site ahead of its being redeveloped into a food emporium including a rooftop terrace and bar.