Murder mystery on HS2 route as Iron Age man found buried face down with hands bound

‘The death of the Wellwick Farm man remains a mystery to us but there aren’t many ways you end up in a bottom of a ditch, face down, with your hands bound’, archaeologist says

Vincent Wood
Saturday 11 July 2020 20:40
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Archaeological works are being carried out on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway and uncovered an Iron Age murder victim and timber Stonehenge-style formation during excavations at Wellwick Farm
Archaeological works are being carried out on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway and uncovered an Iron Age murder victim and timber Stonehenge-style formation during excavations at Wellwick Farm

A mysterious death is being investigated as a potential murder in Buckinghamshire after an Iron Age man was discovered buried face down with his hands bound along the proposed route for the nation’s second high-speed rail route.

The skeleton, found alongside discoveries spanning a 4,000 year period from the Neolithic Age to the Middle Ages, was found with his hands tied under his pelvis during excavation work at Wellwick Farm near Wendover.

Now osteologists are investigating whether the man’s death may have been as a result of a murder or execution.

Project archaeologist Dr Rachel Wood said: “We already knew that Buckinghamshire is rich in archaeology but discovering a site showing human activity spanning 4,000 years came as a bit of a surprise to us.

“The death of the Wellwick Farm man remains a mystery to us but there aren’t many ways you end up in a bottom of a ditch, face down, with your hands bound.

“We hope our osteologists will be able to shed more light on this potentially gruesome death.”

Elsewhere, a large circular monument of wooden posts 65m in diameter with features aligned with the winter solstice, similar to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, was uncovered, as well as a skeleton in a coffin lined in lead.

“The large wooden ceremonial structure, the Roman lead burial and the mystery of the skeleton at Wellwick Farm helps bring alive the fact that people lived, worked and died in this area long before we came along”, Dr Wood added.

HS2 said that the individual buried in a coffin must have been someone of high status to have the means to pay for such an expensive method of burial.

Its lead archaeologist Mike Court said the discoveries will be shared with communities and the public through virtual lectures, open days and in an upcoming documentary.

He added: “We are uncovering a wealth of archaeology that will enrich our cultural heritage.

“The sheer scale of possible discoveries, the geographical span and the vast range of our history to be unearthed makes HS2’s archaeology programme a unique opportunity to tell the story of Buckinghamshire and Britain.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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