LANDLORDS of a North Cotswolds pub were amazed to discover a 2,000-year-old skeleton buried under land they were hoping to turn into a customer car park.
The lack of parking at the Horse and Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill became a problem for brothers, Tom and Will Greenstock, after they took on the pub in 2005.
After a lengthy planning application, the pair were granted permission to build a new car park, but only if the site was excavated for archaeology first.
The series of medieval discoveries which followed, excited the brothers and archaeologists across the country.
“It is exciting news and absolutely stunning to see,” said Tom Greenstock.
“But it’s mixed emotions for me and Will as it adds a couple of extra weeks onto the work of the car park.”
Medieval walls were first revealed, and as news of the discovery spread, national interest generated and archaeologists across the country scrabbled to attend an open day on site to view work being carried out.
Nearly 200 people attended the day, including local schoolchildren and members of Bourton Historical Society who also came along to see what had been found.
The site is believed to have once been a farm complex with 10 rooms arranged around a courtyard and was described as an “unusual example of a medieval settlement”.
But after 11 weeks of investigations, the team discovered an even more exciting find – a human skeleton lying in a burial plot.
The skeleton is believed to be male, and to date from the late Iron Age, approximately 100BC.
Tom added: “The skeleton appears to have had a full burial, something that is thought to be relatively rare for this period of time.
“After being carefully excavated, the skeleton will be sent to a specialist osteo-archaeological laboratory to determine the age and hopefully the cause of death.”
Nicknamed ‘Rusty’ the skeleton is expected to be sent to the Corinium Museum in Cirencester once a full examination has been completed.
More work is continuing on the site and the archaeology team expect to be finished before Christmas, when building work to complete the car park will continue.
“There may yet be more finds,” continued Tom.
“Then we’ll be able to start on our car park which will hopefully be finished by summer 2014.”
In February earlier this year, remains of King Richard III were found under a council car park in Leicester causing headlines around the world.
The brothers said they did not expect their discovery to generate anywhere near that level of excitement but said it had got locals talking.