Haslar Heritage Group

2013 Cranfield Paddock Excavation

This week Cranfield University are undertaking a final excavation of the Paddock at Haslar. The group were involved with ‘Time Team’ which has been seen many times over on Channel 4. The aim of this last dig is to determine that burials were placed outside of the perimeter of the Burial area (9 Acres) wall of the Paddock. There will be no exhumations and the whole project will be undertaken with great reverence. The reason for this excavation comes from the discovery of a letter in the National Maritime Museum files written by the Admiralty to the farmer who rented the area requesting the return of the field in order to undertake further burials.

So for the next few days I will undertake a blog to inform of what is found. Sunday 19th May – a trench was opened that transended the base of the western wall of the Paddock which was knocked down in order to expend the burial area. The base has been exposed (Georgian brick and rubble). It is in this area that 2 years ago an adult female skeleton was unearthed with an adolescent skeleton (double burial) and no doubt mother and child but were they mother and child and what was the story, we will never know. All the scientific findings of the past few years will be reported on at a symposium taking place at the end of the week over a two day period. Should you wish to know more go to the Haslar Heritage website and read the Archeology section which will explain findings etc.

Cranfield Dig. Exposure of the base of the western wall of the 9 acre burial site at Haslar Paddock. The wall was demolished around 1800 when the Admiralty demanded the return of the field from the local Farmer who was renting the land. Thereturn was required in order to provide further extension to the burial area. Evidence of burial has now been found west of the wall’s base.

Ground Radar being used to determine graves within the Memorial Gardens at Haslar. Some 1359 burials are registered for this area and many headstones were removed over the years. This radar search will determine just where the graves lie. No disturbance of the graves is intended. This is just a search, confirmation and record exercise.

A double grave yet to be determined. The darker soil outlines the grave infilled some 200 years ago. The foundation of the western wall lies to the right of the picture.

A Superb two day Symposium Last Friday and Saturday at St Luke’s Haslar with the Cranfield Forensic Archeology Team who presented all the scientific findings concerning the excavations undertaken in the Haslar Paddock from 2005 up to 2010. A programme of enlightening presentations that included an update on the findings during this years excavations. The groundwork as seen in the previous photo revealed a series of graves (2 were multiple burial) and in all containing 15 skeletons. The picture as shown with this posting is of three adults and a child (?10years old) that had been laid in the lap of a female (possible mother). None had been placed in a coffin but buried in shrouds, or wraps. The skeletons having been tied at the ankles, knees and hands. The burial was outside that of the defined Haslar burial area and beyond the perimeter wall. It is thought that it could be a family, possibly staff who succumbed to disease and were buried cheaply. The skeletons were not removed and they are now at rest once more.

This is the final picture from the work undertaken in the Paddock last week. A multiple burial and also including scattered remains disturbed perhaps at the time of the last burial as there are signs of ‘making way’ so to speak. 5 skeletons, collapsed and again no sign of coffins, shroud burials. Once again the grave tidied and notes taken and resealed and much has been learnt from the weeks work. Publication of the Symposium lectures and notes will be published in due course.

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