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Ancient bones under Lewes school may be warrior
Mysterious bones found under a school could belong to a medieval warrior who died in battle.
Archaeologists believe the skeleton could belong to a soldier who fell during the Battle of Lewes in 1264.
Now the ancient remains have been sent to experts at the University of York who will attempt to solve the puzzle.
The skeleton, known as 180, was one of 123 sets of remains found in a medieval cemetery when Western Road School was demolished.
The site was once the home of the Hospital of St Nicholas, which was run in medieval times by monks from Lewes Priory.
Most of the skeletons show signs of leprosy and other medieval diseases, but Skeleton 180 is different.
The skull has been hacked with a sword and was buried near Lewes Prison, close to where the most brutal fighting happened during the famous battle nearly 750 years ago.
Edwina Livesey, a Battle of Lewes officer for Sussex Archaeological Society, said the discovery was “incredible”.
She said: “It would be amazing if we could narrow it down far enough to suggest he was at the Battle of Lewes.
“The top of his skull has been sliced off with a sword. He also had terrible tooth decay and would have been in permanent pain.
Battle of Lewes
“We’ll be looking for signs of slashes to the back of his legs because they were often hit with battleaxes while they were running away.
“But this is also very moving, because this was a real man with a real story, and it looks like he died in a truly horrific way.”
After the Battle of Lewes, most of the dead were hastily buried by local people just yards away.
More than 1,000 were found by Victorian road builders working on the Brighton to Lewes turnpike 600 years later.
However, none of these bones remain above ground – and there are still believed to be more than 1,000 skeletons from the battle buried beneath the town.
At the University of York, experts will carbon date the skeleton and will attempt to discover what he ate and how he lived.
Microscopic analysis will also reveal whether he lived for a time after he was injured, explaining why he may have been taken to hospital.
Ms Livesey said: “We’re still some way off from confirming he was a soldier at the Battle of Lewes.
“But I think it would be fantastic for the town if it turns out to be true.”
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