Councillor 'desperate' to find out history of historic bodies found in Buckingham

An archaeology report into the dramatic discovery, which included skeletons buried face down with their hands tied behind their backs, remains unpublished two years on
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A Bucks councillor said he is “desperate” to know the history of dozens of bodies found at a farm ‘with their hands tied behind their backs’ – fearing some ‘may be his relatives’.

Cllr Robin Stuchbury said he ‘needed to find out’ if he had any family members among up to ’80 skeletons’ uncovered during excavations for a planned care home at West End Farm, on Brackley Road, in Buckingham, in 2019.

He said his family had been in the area since 1086, adding: “If it is Anglo Saxon/Viking, it’s probably to do with my family.”

Councillor Robin StuchburyCouncillor Robin Stuchbury
Councillor Robin Stuchbury

Cllr Stuchbury pressured Bucks Council bosses to find out what happened at “this major historic site”, and when, during a cabinet meeting this week.

But Cllr Gareth Williams, deputy leader and cabinet member for planning and regeneration, advised him the future of the discovery was dependent on a collaborative effort between Network Archaeology and the developer, Brio Homes.

“As you are aware, a number of bodies were uncovered during excavations ahead of work at West End Farm, on Brackley Road, in Buckingham, for a planned care home,” said Cllr Stuchbury.

“This included skeletons of 80 bodies with hands tied behind their backs.

“I would be grateful if the cabinet member for planning and regeneration could provide an interim report of the basic analysis of this major historic site, to provide clarification of what took place and in what date period for local residents.

“I understand that some of the investigations have been halted due to financial issues between the developer and Network Archaeology, which have been ongoing for some considerable time, and, if this is the case, what action can be taken by the council to bring this to a quick resolution?”

He added: “I am desperate, on a personal basis, and my residents are desperate to know their own history.

“Being a local boy, I may even have relatives who are in the hole, or, I may have relatives who have put them in the hole, I think I need to find out.

“My family’s been here since 1086…and if it is Anglo Saxon/Viking, it’s probably to do with my family.”

“I won’t be speculating on whether members of your family were anything to do with people being buried facedown with their hands behind their back,” replied Cllr Williams.

He added although “limited artefactual evidence” was recovered, “two Medieval buckles” were dug up, suggesting a “long-lived Medieval burial ground”.

He said in 2019 “all works ceased on site”.

He said the council had “raised concerns about storage and conservation of the skeletons”.

Adding: “Brio Homes then agreed in February 2020 to pay for the stabilisation of those human remains.

“To date, no further works have been undertaken.

“It did become apparent, in April of this year, Brio Homes had failed to settle the outstanding balance on works already completed.

“Network Archaeology are no longer prepared to undertake further works because obviously they need to get paid for it.”

Cllr Williams said Brio Homes had withdrawn its application, adding: “It appears they’ve decided against developing the site – and therefore probably have no intention of funding the post-excavation works.

“It therefore seems we cannot, as Buckinghamshire Council, insist that they fund the post-excavation works, and Network Archaeology cannot undertake the works without payment.

“Candidly, we need the other two partners to sort of take responsibility for the excavated remains from this site and to work with us on this matter.”

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