THE remains of young child buried thousands of years ago in a west Suffolk garden have been unearthed by archaeologists.
Although the sex of the child found at Culford is not known, it is thought the remains belong to a child under the age of 10 and possibly the child of an important family because of the offerings found close by.
Suffolk County Council’s archaeologists were called in by Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds, to examine the site, close to the sports centre, before a new tennis court was built on it.
The find has been described as “extraordinary” and sheds further light on life in the early Bronze Age.
The dig’s project officer Robert Atfield said: “This is a fairly rare find and because it is below in old garden is in remarkably good condition. It is about 4,000 years old.
“Much of the bone has rotted away but there are a few small skull fragments and some human teeth.”
Further tests will now be carried out on the remains to discover the child’s age and gender.
Surrounding the remains were a range of objects including shaped flint flakes and an urn, thought to have once contained food.
As the remains were found in isolation it is thought the child might have had some status within the settlement group, perhaps the son or daughter of a tribal leader.
The archaeological team finished its excavation of the site yesterday.
Mr Atfield said west Suffolk had proved a rich area for archaeological discoveries, largely because of settlements around rivers where the soil was fertile and flowing water offered easy transportation.
Deputy headteacher Belinda McCrea said: “This is an extraordinary find. It is extremely interesting for our pupils and some of them have been able to visit the excavation site and take a look at the work the archaeologists have been doing. One pupil in particular has visited the site every day as he is interested in pursuing a career in archaeology when he leaves school.
“It is quite a moving thought that around 1500BC there was a community living here with children and today in 2007 we have a school on the site.”
Work on the tennis centre, a joint project between the school and the Lawn Tennis Association, will begin early in the New Year.
The centre, which will open in the spring, will have four courts, adding to the existing five outdoor courts, and enable the school to offer tennis all year round. Tennis is a major sport at the school and the new centre will enable the school to become a regional centre of excellence for the sport.