The skeletal remains were unearthed two weeks ago at the “lost chapel of St. Morell” near the small village of Hallaton, the University of Leicester announced on Thursday.
The discovery comes as part of a four-year excavation project by the Hallaton Fieldwork Group, a partnership between local volunteers and University of Leicester archaeologists.
The remains were dated to the 14th century using radiocarbon, and it appears they were about the same age when they were buried together. Researchers said it is unclear why they were found at the small chapel and not at the main church in the nearby village.”We have seen similar skeletons before from Leicester where a couple has been buried together in a single grave,” Vicki Score, ULAS project manager said in a statement. “The main question we find ourselves asking is why were they buried up there? There is a perfectly good church in Hallaton. This leads us to wonder if the chapel could have served as some sort of special place of burial at the time.”
Researchers believe it is possible the bodies were buried apart from the main church because they were criminals, foreigners or sick. Alternatively, the chapel may have been a special pilgrimage site.
In addition to the hand-holding couple, eleven other skeletons have been uncovered at the site. The archaeologists also uncovered Roman archaeology, including fragments of stone masonry and tiles. Silver pennies found at the site show it was in use from the 12th to 16th centuries; Score. the ULAS project manager, told local paper Leicester Mercury the Roman ruins make the site particularly notable.
“What makes the discovery of the medieval chapel doubly exciting is to find the remains of a previous Roman building underneath it,” she said. “It shows this ground has been used as a special sort of place by people for at least 2,000 years.”