100 year old bones uncovered at Hartlepool cemetery during wall work

The area where the wall is being rebuilt and the fragments of human bone were found
The area where the wall is being rebuilt and the fragments of human bone were found

Improvement work has been halted at a Hartlepool cemetery after fragment of human bone believed to be more than 100 years old were uncovered.

The remains from an unmarked grave were discovered at Hartlepool’s Spion Kop cemetery while council contractors were rebuilding a wall.

Some of the bones unearthed at Spion Kop cemetery

Some of the bones unearthed at Spion Kop cemetery

Archeologists have taken the pieces away and Hartlepool’s coroner Malcolm Donnelly is to be leading the response.

The police have also been informed but they are not investigating.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “Contractors encountered unexpected human bones while working to dismantle and re-construct the cemetery wall at Spion Kop off Old Cemetery Road.

“The remains, which are thought to be over 100 years old, were not in marked graves and their presence could not have been anticipated.

At first I thought ‘is it a dog bone’ then I saw another one next to it

Jo Banks

“Since being found, the bones have been treated with the utmost respect. Work on the wall has been suspended, the site has been fenced off and the appropriate authorities have been informed.

“The Coroner’s Office has been contacted and is leading the response, Cleveland Police have also been informed, Tees Archaeology is assessing the discovery and we are awaiting further guidance from church authorities.”

Spion Kop cemetery off Old Cemetery Road opened in the 1800s to replace St Hilda’s churchyard and over 26,000 people are said to have been buried there.

Some of the bones were spotted by Jo Banks while taking part in a guided history walk on Sunday.

“It just caught my eye,” she said. “I looked a bit closer and saw there was something sticking out of the ground.

“At first I thought ‘is it a dog bone’ then I saw another one next to it. Then I saw the proximity of the graves and realised.

“I was shocked. I think it must be terrible to end up this way.”

Around 400 new homes are being built on the former Steetley site just along the road from the cemetery.