Remains unearthed at former Northamptonshire Roman villa to be re-interred

editorial image

Nine fifth and sixth Century skeletons unearthed on the site of a former Roman Villa in Northamptonshire are to be re-interred.

The skeletons were found in two archaeological digs at Whitehall Farm, in Nether Heyford, in 2004 and 2009, and are being returned to the land on Wednesday, June 26.

When excavated, the graves were found to include several warrior burials with swords and daggers alongside the bodies, as well as possessions including a beaded necklace, spear and brooch.

Also interred were an infant and several adolescents, suggesting a family grave.

The remains were carbon-dated, and revealed the bodies were from the period after the Romans left, to the early Anglo-Saxon period.

Experts believe they may have been German mercenaries hired by wealthy land owners to protect their property.

Speaking about the re-internment, Nick Adams, who owns the farm, said: “I think as a group we felt it was the right thing to do at some stage.

“We have retained some samples from the skeletons, and also the teeth. With a DNA test we can get an idea of the relationship between them.

“Because of the timing of them, there is the possibility they may not be British, They may be mercenaries.

“During that time things were all slightly lawless, and people were there to protect the tribes.”

A team of archaeologists, students and volunteers has worked at the site since 2000.

The main excavations were completed last year, and the land was returned to pasture.

Although the main work has come to an end, there are still areas the group is looking at.

It is keen to find the gatehouse to the site, the foundations of an Iron Age roundhouse, which is believed to be in one of the fields, and the “missing” Roman cemetery.

The group is aware of the presence of a track, which runs down to the Roman road, Watling Street, which may lead it to the gatehouse.

Regarding the cemetery, Mr 
Adams said: “There were people living in that complex from the 1st Century up to the 5th Century, and there will be a lot of people buried there.”

For more information on the site, including pictures of previous excavations, visit