A Chester-le-Street man was shocked to find a box of ashes containing the remains of a man who died in 2008 buried in the back garden of the house he has lived in for more than 45 years.
As reported by The Chronicle, 70-year-old Bill Stephenson made the macabre discovery after the soil covering the casket was disturbed when his gardener cut the grass.
Speaking to the paper, he said once the gardener had left, he realised some of the topsoil had been disturbed in a part of the garden.
He said: "When I looked there was a casket with a coffin lid in brass, with the details of a man who'd died in 2008. It was wrapped in a black bin liner and the mower has torn it, which is why we've seen it."
The box bears the name 'Thomas Lawson Cox', and the words 'Died 15th June 2008'. Mr Stephenson said he had never heard the name before, nor had neighbours or local crematoriums.
Stranger's ashes found in garden: A County Durham man is left "baffled" after a stranger's ashes are discovered… http://t.co/OZqFL94sSc— Newcastle upon Tyne (@thetoonjournal) June 18, 2015
He said: "It's very odd - and I feel very sorry for the poor man."
It is not known whether the box was buried close to the time of the cremation, apparently in 2008, or later - Mr Stephenson said neither he nor his neighbours can recollect ever seeing anything unusual in his garden, although he did say that the garden is fairly easy to get into, and is on the opposite side of the road to his house.
After discovering the box, Mr Stephenson called Durham Police. They investigated, and managed to track down the brother of the deceased man - but he has no idea why the box ended up in the garden either.
People wishing to move human remains must first get permission from the Ministry of Justice, by filling out an application which asks for details of the deceased, the next of kin, and the owner of the land where the remains are buried.
Once the dead man's brother has filled out the neccessary paperwork, the box can be moved to a more appropriate place.
In the meantime, there are still no answers to the question of how the box got there in the first place.Reuse content