HS2 works unearth skeleton of possible iron age murder victim

Other finds include lead lined Roman coffin and Stonehenge-like wooden structure

The skeleton discovered near Wellwick Farm with its hands bound. Photograph: HS2/PA

A skeleton believed to be a murder victim from the iron age has been discovered by archaeologists working on the HS2 project in Buckinghamshire.

HS2 said the find was made during excavation work at Wellwick Farm, near Wendover. Archaeologists found the skeleton of the adult male buried face down in a ditch with his hands bound together under his pelvis.

The unusual burial position suggested the man may have been the victim of a murder or execution, it said.

Osteologists were examining the skeleton for further evidence of foul play, HS2 said.

Work on the site for the high-speed rail project has also revealed a large circular monument of wooden posts 65 metres (213ft) in diameter, with features aligned with the winter solstice, similar to Stonehenge in Wiltshire; and a skeleton in a coffin lined in lead, an expensive material indicating high status.

Dr Rachel Wood, an archaelogist working on the project, 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 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. We hope our osteologists will be able to shed more light on this potentially gruesome death.”

She said the three discoveries helped to “bring alive the fact that people lived, worked and died in this area long before we came along”.

The timber monument has features aligned to the winter solstice. Photograph: HS2/PA Media

The archaeological works had revealed evidence of human activity dating from the neolithic to the medieval period, HS2 said.

HS2’s lead archaeologist, Mike Court, said the discoveries would be shared with communities and the public through virtual lectures, open days, and in an upcoming documentary.

“We are uncovering a wealth of archaeology that will enrich our cultural heritage,” he said. “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.”


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