Four Roman skeletons unearthed by workers on £40m Covenham to Boston water pipeline

The skeleton remains were discovered by workers.
The skeleton remains were discovered by workers.

Skeleton remains of four people that could date back to the Roman era were unearthed during work on a new water pipeline.

Anglian Water is connecting Boston to Covenham Reservoir in a £40million project to supply the area’s growing population.

Specialists were assessing sites ahead of laying the 63km pipeline when they came across bones of an adult and child, loosley buried in farmland in Stickford.

A spokeman said the bones were ‘more or less in the top soil’.

The first discovery was of an adult and very young child crouched or ‘spooned’. Another two adults were then found nearby and appeared to have been buried lying on their backs.

The bones have been taken away by experts from Oxford Archaeology East who will need to carry out carbon dating tests but initial estimates suggest that they could date back to the Roman era.

There is evidence of settlements in Stickford dating back to the Neolithic period, with the land acting as a natural point to cross the Fens.

Cheryl Steele, chairman of Stickford Local History Group, said: “It’s excellent. We are really excited about the finding and are looking forward to finding out more.” Anglian Water has promised a talk on the findings to the group.

The project to put in an underground pipeline across the Lincolnshire countryside from Covenham Reservoir to Boston is a mammoth one.

Yellow ‘compound’ signs directing workmen to the sites can be seen across the Louth area. Drive through the Wolds and stretches of the pipeline earthworks can be seen cutting across farmland.

The pipeline has been produced in long lengths to cut the number of deliveries needed to get it to site and reduce the time spent welding the lengths together. Another innovation has been to carry out the dig using a rock trenching machine specially adapted to work in clay, which sped work up considerably.

“The machine was further adjusted so the soil it dug out was just the right grade to be immediately re-used in backfilling the trench.

Anglian Water’s Wendy Kilmurray said: “The new ways of working we’ve trialled have allowed up to 650m of trench excavation, pipe installation and backfill to be completed in a day. All being well, the first water from Covenham should be coming out of taps in Boston in early 2014.”