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St Neots Priory graveyard

History of St Neots Priory

In 1993 excavation were carried out at this location and reported in CAS 2005.

St Neots Priory was possibly founded in 979-984 and refounded soon after the Conquest. The Liber Eliensis referes to a foundation by Bishop Aethelwold c.974. An inventory of English saints completed in 1020 lists the bones of St Neot as rest in the monastery at Eynesbury. However, there is no mention of St Neots in Domesday Book which suggests that pre-conquest history was manufactured.

The later monastery was refounded as a daughter house to the Bendictine Abbey of Bec. A new new church was started in 1100 and the priory founded in 1113. It was finally dissolved in 1539.

In 1993 a total of 38 graves and 44 skeletons were excavated. The most interesting is Skeleton 6, on display at St Neots Museum, interred with a group of iron staples. These may have formed part of a surgical support for the spine or a walking stick. They may have come from some kind of support beneath the body, perhaps from a bier.

The low proportion of female and child remains suggests that the burial ground was not the parish cemetery.


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