The site of East Anglia’s oldest burial ground is at risk from being destroyed by a road and housing scheme planned at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk.
“If anyone dares to dig up or despoil, in scandalous and criminal fashion, a body buried in the ground or in a coffin or a rock or a pyramid or any structure, he shall be regarded as an outlaw.”
Such was the earliest law of medieval England under King Henry I forbidding the disturbance of ancient graves.
Today in North America and Australia the burial grounds and remains of indigenous peoples are rightly given the strongest legal protection from developers, road builders and any others who would disturb ancient places of rest.
Similarly, in Ireland and Iceland there is strong resistance to disturbing ancient. And just recently we have seen enormous interest and concern over the fate of the bones of King Richard III.
Yet in Britain in 2015 the site of oldest burial ground in East Anglia is at risk of obliteration from a road and housing scheme planned at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk.
Site is close to mysterious Stongehenge-type monument
The site is within metres of the site of a mysterious ancient monument, dating from the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the size and scale of Stonehenge.
It is a cursus, strange linear earthwork stretching more than a kilometre long, set in a ritual landscape so large it can only be appreciated from the air.
Somewhere, archaeologists believe there will also be a henge monument awaiting rediscovery.
Hundreds of objects have already been in the field in a survey in 2013 but it appears the developers, Countryside Properties of Brentwood do not want details released, although their own map created in June 2013 confirms part of the area as the site of prehistoric cremations.
Many bones – most as yet unexamined – together with a cremation urn and human remains have been found on a 5% sample and round barrows are known to have existed close by.
Local folklore avers that the area was the resting place of three ancient British Kings – traditions that may have inspired M.R. James and the story “A Warning to the Curious”.
Obviously, allowing a developer such as Countryside Properties to build 900 houses on the site will obliterate the burial site and poses a threat to the cursus monument.
Many cultures around the world venerate the final resting places of their dead.
In Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria the world is appalled when archaeology and heritage is wilfully destroyed. Great Britain currently has some of the weakest legal protection and the site is placing its own prehistoric heritage at risk, despite calls from a group of leading archaeologists, historians and scholars in the regional East Anglian Daily Times on February 25th 2015 “Eminent archaeologists and historians raise concerns over Bury St Edmunds development site” for a proper scheme of protection and evaluation for the site.
Don’t mess with the dead or face the consequences
Furthermore one also note many traditions also indicate that digging up the ancient dead.
However, one interprets folklore the British Isles is packed with stories of those who disturb human remains suffering spooky or unpleasant consequences.
Storms, floods and disaster or they may face personal visits from the angry dead in person.
This not just unattributable folklore; an apparition was witnessed following the opening at Manton Barrow, Preshute in Wiltshire in the earlier 20th century and in 1972 the building of a fire station on a medieval burial site at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk triggered a haunting. Many other examples could be cited. In recent years strange stories have also circulated of ghostly figures in the area of Sutton Hoo area following extension of the visitors centre.
Certainly, a growing number of locals consider digging up the graves of the dead at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk and disturbing the archaeology will bring nothing but harm upon on Countryside Properties or any other developers who contemplate such a course. How would they feel if it was their own kith and kin?
People interested in respecting our dead and preserving England’s ancient cultural heritage should contact Countryside Properties its website here and ask them to change their minds about planning to build at Fornham All Saints.