Alert as human bones discovered at dig

ARCHAEOLOGISTS prompted a visit from the police when they found a collection of human remains during a dig.

Officers were called to the site of the Roman fort at Cramond, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, after the remains of several bodies were discovered.

Experts believe they were left there during the Middle Ages – hundreds of years after the Roman fort was built in 142AD.

It is thought the bodies were buried by families unable to pay for a proper burial at nearby Cramond Kirkyard.

A pathologist was called in by Lothian and Borders Police to inspect the bones, but when it became clear how old they were, and that there was so sign of foul play, the force's involvement was short-lived.

The remains have since been reburied at the site – one of Britain's most important Roman sites – which will be opened up permanently within months.

The excavation has exposed what is left of the ancient building for the first time in more than 50 years, although the part of the site where the human remains were found has been dug up for the first time.

Although the existing church dates as far back as 1656, records show the original foundations of the fort were partly covered by a chapel built in the 600s.

Cramond's origins date back nearly 2,000 years. When the Romans invaded Scotland for the second time, in AD139, they stopped at a line between the Forth and the Clyde and built the Antonine Wall.

They built a fort at Cramond to protect the southern shore of the Forth, east of the end of the wall, and to act as a supply port for the Roman army in Scotland.

It is hoped the archaeological dig will shed light on how the fort was built – and unearth new treasures to go on display in a planned museum.

John Lawson, the city council's archaeologist, said: "They were medieval human remains and we think they were about 1,000 years old.

"Although they were discovered just outside the burial ground of the church, it is probable their relatives could not afford to have them buried properly. We think the site was occupied in early medieval times and we hope the dig will provide more information."

John Dods, chairman of the Cramond Management Group, a taskforce set up to raise awareness of the host of historical remains in the area, said: "The church records only go back to the 1560s, but it's well known there was a church there for a long time before that.

"It's not too much of a surprise that these remains have been discovered and it may be that where they were found was part of an early graveyard."

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