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Apology over state of graveyard

18 July 2014

Excavated lately: the churchyard at St Margaret's, Old Catton

Excavated lately: the churchyard at St Margaret's, Old Catton

CHURCH officials have apologised to a woman after she stumbled over human remains in a graveyard.

Kirsty Olley was searching for clues about her ancestors among headstones at St Margaret's, Old Catton, near Norwich, when she found bones - including a skull fragment, and a jaw bone still holding some teeth. They are believed to have come from a part of the cemetery last used in 1899.

Ms Olley told the Eastern Daily Press: "It was quite obvious by the state of the churchyard that they had recently had some groundworks, but to find human remains of these poor people who were laid to rest many years ago was, without a doubt, disturbing, and very upsetting."

Now the PCC of St Margaret's have apologised on behalf of contractors working on improvements to the church, which dates fromthe 11th century.

In a statement, the PCC secretary, Sharon Money, said that it was "regrettable" that proper procedures had not been followed, and the contractor was "extremely apologetic" for the oversight.

She said: "While most of the work was carried out within the church building, there was some excavation. Under Church of England regulations, excavated soil from a consecrated churchyard cannot be removed, and has to remain in the churchyard. Some may be reused for backfilling, but the remainder has to be stockpiled, and then spread and levelled within the churchyard."

The bones had been discovered during the spreading of the excavated material, and should have been collected by the contractor and stored for reinterment. After Ms Olley's discovery, they were bagged and removed from the churchyard. "The bones will all be returned to the church, and . . . reinterred," Ms Money said.

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