August 1 2014 Latest news:
Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Friday, August 20, 2010
A SKELETON discovered at a building site could be Whittlesey’s earliest known resident.
Archaeologists dug up the site of Eastrea’s proposed village hall and found ancient bones amongst the rubble.
It is thought the skeleton dates back more than 2,000 years to a time when Whittlesey was a settlement during the Roman Empire.
Excited villagers have called their new-found oldest neighbour Maximus – the same name as the Russell Crowe character in the blockbuster film Gladiator.
Professor Brian J Ford, who led the campaign to build the new village hall, said the discovery of a Roman burial site in Whittlesey is “big news”.
Residents have battled to get the community facility complete with an office, sports facilities and function rooms for the town since 1945.
They triumphantly won their bid last year when a planning inspector gave the green light to a new hall and 14 homes in Coates Road costing around £300,000.
Fenland District Council had previously ditched the proposal but its ruling was overturned.
And as part of their plans, developers were forced to pay £25,000 for an in-depth archaeological survey.
What was unearthed by the Archaeological Project Services team, based in Heckington, Lincolnshire, has surprised many people in the village.
Television personality Prof Ford said it “all has resonances for me” as one of the few people licensed to exhume human bodies by the Home Secretary.
The scientist’s past work includes digging up skeletons as a biologist and getting an official exhumation certificate from the Government.
A newsletter by residents says: “The name Maximus was chosen not because of the Gladiator movie but to commemorate the size of the bill this survey has cost.
“The total is fortunately paid for us by our developers.”