Builders working on new classrooms at Twyford School have discovered Anglo-Saxon burials. At least 12 graves have been found in a small cemetery dating back to the 7th century AD.

The bodies had been laid out in shallow graves cut into the chalk. An iron knife placed next to one of the dead is the clue to the date of the cemetery.

Rob Bosshardt the Bursar at Twyford School said, “it was a surprise when the burials were made as when the planning application was checked it was thought that there was not much likelihood of any archaeological finds. The site has been landscaped in the past. But it is an exciting find which the children will be fascinated to learn more about.”

After consulting with Tracey Matthews, archaeologist for Winchester City Council, the school called in archaeologists to do an excavation. Tracey Matthews added “an unexpected discovery like this can cause delays to building works but the school acted promptly and did the right thing.”

When the dig, which is being done by local experts Wessex Archaeology, is finished, the remains will be studied in the laboratory to establish the age and sex of the dead, and also their exact date.

Paul McCulloch, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology said “The first time Twyford, which means ‘Two Fords’, is mentioned in historical sources is in the 7th century. We think the burials date right back to this time, about 1,300 years ago. Three or four Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of this date are already known around Winchester, including one at Oliver’s Battery and some of the finds from there are on display in Winchester Museum.”

View the photos from the excavation on Flickr.