Human remains found at construction site in Kent

Published: 19th January 2018 

At Belowground Ltd we carry out a range of varied piling and underpinning work, for a wide number of contractors. Recently however, we encountered something on a job that caught even our experienced team off guard – the discovery of human remains at a build site.

The job took place in Gravesend, Kent. The build site had previously been a public house with a basement. It was being converted by Sovereign Exclusive Home LTD into 4 new private houses and the Belowground Ltd team had been brought in to construct piled foundations at the site. The build required auger bored piles up to 16m long and reinforced ground beams.

During this work, our team uncovered numerous human remains, which were believed to be of considerable age.

As the leading archaeology publication Wardell Armstrong Archaeology identifies:

“Perhaps one of the most difficult issues for archaeologists and developers alike to deal with on proposed development sites, is the discovery of human remains especially if they are in large numbers.”

Whilst this wasn’t our specific area of expertise, we knew that it would need to be taken extremely seriously and treated carefully and respectfully. Aside from potential ethical and legal elements, human remains are time consuming and expensive to excavate in the field. They can also cause delays and costs in the post-excavation process when they need to be appropriately assessed and studied.

After the discovery, our ground beams, driven piles and piled foundations were put on hold and we got the experts in. A team of archaeologists were called to investigate the site.

Whilst it’s not something that our team had encountered before, the discovery of human remains at construction sites is not uncommon in the UK. Just last week human remains were excavated at a building site in Yatton. The experts working on the site believe the remains could be from a Roman cemetery and could be over 1000 years old!

Belowground Ltd work with small, medium and large contractors and developers on projects from domestic extensions and new builds to commercial developments. We are able to provide our customers with a free estimate on costs after visiting your site to assess it.

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