Archaeologists have discovered the remains of more than 240 people, including children, working in the ruins of a medieval monastery found under an old department store.
The “very significant” find was made under the former Ocky White building in the town of Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Archaeologists believe that the relics belong to the Monastery of São Salvador, a monastery founded by order of Dominican friars around 1256.
One researcher said the discovery offers “a window into the medieval Haverfordwest”.
Ocky White has been a popular department store for over a century. before closing in 2013.
Some skulls have been found with wounds consistent with what happens in battle, experts say – Image: BBC
Andrew Shubrook, superintendent of work on the site, described the monastery as a complex of buildings with dormitories and scripts – rooms dedicated to writing and manuscripts – stables and a hospital.
“It’s a very prestigious place to be buried in,” he said. “You have a diverse group of people, from the wealthiest locals to urban dwellers in general.”
The tomb is believed to have been used until the early 18th century.
The discovery was made in the former Ocky White store, which has occupied the site for more than a century (Image: BBC)
Ocky White has been a very popular department store for over a century – Image: LDRS / via BBC
About half of the remains found are children, which may indicate a high infant mortality rate at that time.
All bones will undergo an analysis of their burial in a sacred ground near where they were found.
Some of the remains had head injuries consistent with a fight. According to Shubrook, these marks can be caused by arrows or shotgun balls.
Hundreds of remains and artifacts found at the archaeological site – Photo: BBC
Tiles were also found at the site – Photo: BBC
The tomb is believed to have been used as early as the 18th century (Image: BBC)
One theory is that the victims may have been traced back to an attack led by Owen Glyndwr, who was the last Welsh citizen to hold the title of Prince of Wales.
The battle involved Welsh and French forces, who joined together to fight the English occupation of Wales.
“We know that the city was besieged by Owen Glynder in 1405, and these individuals may have been victims of this conflict,” Chopbrook believes.
The remains and other finds, including tiles, will be stored in an abandoned store near the archaeological site.
Archaeologists Andrew Shubrook and Gaby Lister say the finds are important – Image: BBC
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be involved in something of this magnitude,” archaeologist Gaby Lister admitted.
“This discovery reveals a large part of the history of Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire.”
The excavation site is being remodeled into a food store and bar.
“Devoted food specialist. General alcohol fanatic. Amateur explorer. Infuriatingly humble social media scholar. Analyst.”