Putting Flesh on the Bones of History

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Blackburn

A local historian has shed more light on the dramatic discovery of scores of ancient bones in Norton.

Sackfuls of bones and skulls were unearthed last week by builders working on a house extension in Roseberry Crescent, as reported exclusively in the Gazette.

Detectives quickly established that shocked householder Vicky Ferguson, right, was innocent of any grisly crime and called in experts from Tees Archaeology.

The remains of at least eight individuals have been found at the semi-detached house, and samples have been sent off for carbon dating tests.

Peter Rowe, sites and monuments officer with Tees Archaeology, believes the bones are of Saxon origin dating from 650-900AD and point to a network of ancient cemeteries in the area.

The human bones are just the latest to have been unearthed in the neighbourhood, with similar finds at King Edwin's School in 2003, on Bradbury Road in 1995 and at Mill Lane in 1984.

Historian Bob Harbron, chairman of the Norton Heritage Group, is also confident the scientific tests will prove the Saxon link.

"That area has the old name of Saxon Field going back hundreds of years," he said. "There must be hundreds if not thousands of Saxons buried in the area from Billingham Beck across the A19 right up to Norton Green.

"There were maybe only 100 people in the settlement, but with a life expectancy of just 30-40 years you are looking at virtually three generations of people dying every 100 years. …