Skeleton of 'murdered' Iron Age man found during HS2 works in Buckinghamshire

11 July 2020, 11:22 | Updated: 11 July 2020, 12:48

The skeleton of a man with his hands tied - believed to be a murder victim from the Iron Age - has been discovered by archaeologists working on the HS2 project.

The remains were found during excavations at Wellwick Farm in Buckinghamshire, ahead of construction work for the high-speed rail line.

Experts said the skeleton was buried face down in a ditch with his hands bound together under his pelvis, suggesting he may have been the victim of a murder or execution.

"The death of the Wellwick Farm man remains a mystery to us but there aren't many ways you end up in a bottom of a ditch, face down, with your hands bound," said project archaeologist Dr Rachel Wood.

"We hope our osteologists will be able to shed more light on this potentially gruesome death."

Osteologists are currently examining the skeleton for more evidence of foul play.

A number of discoveries were made at the site spanning 4,000 years of human history.

The findings - which date from the Neolithic to the Medieval period - include a Stonehenge-style wooden formation and a high-status Roman burial.

HS2 said it had found a large circular monument of wooden posts, believed to be used for ceremonial activities, which was "similar to Stonehenge".

The Roman skeleton was found inside a coffin lined in lead, with the outer coffin likely made of wood, suggesting it must have been a wealthy person.

Dr Wood said: "We already knew that Buckinghamshire is rich in archaeology but discovering a site showing human activity spanning 4,000 years came as a bit of a surprise to us.

"The large wooden ceremonial structure, the Roman lead burial and the mystery of the skeleton at Wellwick Farm helps bring alive the fact that people lived, worked and died in this area long before we came along."

The discoveries will be shared with the public through virtual lectures, open days and in an upcoming documentary.

Lead archaeologist Mike Court said: "Before we build the low-carbon high-speed railway between London and Birmingham, we are uncovering a wealth of archaeology that will enrich our cultural heritage.

"The sheer scale of possible discoveries, the geographical span and the vast range of our history to be unearthed makes HS2's archaeology programme a unique opportunity to tell the story of Buckinghamshire and Britain."