They were found during the rebuilding of the porch at All Saints Church in Mumbles. Evidence suggests the children were suffering from malnutrition. The Reverend Canon Keith Evans, the vicar of Oystermouth, said he was glad people in the area made the special service to pay their respects to the dead.
“There was one skeleton more or less intact, one partial one, while the others were bone fragments,” said Canon Evans. “We didn’t want to just bury them — we wanted to mark the space they were found in with due reverence and dignity.”
He paid thanks to the special casket which was made for the occasion by William Pressdee, part of Co-op Funeralcare. The skeletons and bones were not sent for carbon dating but were examined, and are thought to date from the late medieval period to the mid-19th Century.
The 13 people were found by members of the Glamorgan-Gwent Archeological Trust (GATT), who studied the trenches dug for the new porch foundations. The church has been extended over the years, and stands on the site of a Roman villa.
Edith Evans, GATT’s head of heritage outreach, said the human remains were found in a half a dozen graves. More bones were found in a trench nearby. She explained: “Older graves were often cut through by people digging new graves, who usually threw the disturbed bones back in before the new coffin was lowered.”
All the bones were buried in specially-made casket provided free of charge. Senior funeral director Paul Murray: “We didn’t want to just put them in a simple box. All the bones were beautifully laid out inside.”
He admitted that even after 37 years in the business it was an unusual casket assignment. “I can’t say I’ve ever done this before,” he said. “However it has been a rewarding task and an opportunity for us as part of a close community in Mumbles to pay our respects to our forebears.”