St Mary's Headland - Buried Bones
|St Mary's Headland
includes the Seaham Hall - St Mary's - Vicarage complex and the land eastwards
to the sea. It includes Seaham Hall Lodge which is located at the
entrance to the Seaham Hall grounds from the coast road at Seaham Hall
Beach Car Park.
Seaham Hall Lodge, July 1999
Home of the Chapman family.
In March 1997 an archeological
excavation was commissioned by the Durham County Archeologist and undertaken
by Northern Archeological Associates in the front garden of Seaham Hall
Seaham Hall Lodge.
The lightened area of garden is the approximate location of the
Opposite entrance to Seaham Hall grounds is the Beach Car Park.
The St Marys sculpture can just be seen through the garden railings
to the right of the white pillar.
The purpose was to
clarify the findings of various historical reports of human burials in
this area to the north of St Marys Church. In the past speculation
about the origin of the burials found in the area has ranged from ancient
Britons to Vikings.
The remains of ten
skeletons were uncovered by the "dig" in a small area 7m x 3m (lightened
in the picture above). Bone samples taken from the skeletons were
used for radiocarbon dating - a scientific technique for determining how
long the skeletons had been buried. The conclusion of the scientific
dating is that the cemetery was in use between AD660 and AD880. This
makes the burials older than St Marys Church and from a time in history
when the Celtic Christian church had yet to be supplanted by Roman Catholicism.
Remarkably, it makes
the site possibly even older than Jarrow and Monk Wearmouth and places
Seaham as one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian sites in England.
The intention now
is to carry out further investigative work on the site and grants have
been obtained from several sponsors, including Seaham Town Council, to
fund the initiative.
Whilst this isn't
exactly a regeneration project it could have significant value in terms
of the town's heritage if the early indications are confirmed. Therefore,
Seaham Harbour Online intends to monitor the "dig" and report any interesting
You can follow the
new dig at
If you wish to express a view about any or all
of the "improvements" please use the
Harbour Online Guestbook.