PUBLISHED: 12:04 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:13 23 August 2010
NEARLY 30 bodies including a baby that is thought to be 1,000-years-old were discovered in unmarked graves during renovation works at a church. The last of 29 bodies, unearthed at St Peter and St Paul s Church, Swanscombe, during digging work to drain th
NEARLY 30 bodies including a baby that is thought to be 1,000-years-old were discovered in unmarked graves during renovation works at a church.
The last of 29 bodies, unearthed at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Swanscombe, during digging work to drain the earth, was discovered on Monday.
Archaeologist Guy Seddon said the church dates back to Saxon times and that a baby found in an unmarked grave by the church tower could date back 1,000 years.
Mr Seddon, who has overseen the dig at the church in Swanscombe Street, said: "The church has been in use for about 1,000 years and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
"You can see the lower part of the tower is Saxon.
"The style of the coffins and the pottery that happened to fall around them dates most of the bodies at 200 to 300-years-old."
The 34-year-old, of London-based Pro Construct Archaeology, added: "We found men, women, children and babies.
"We found one baby buried next to the Saxon tower and they used to bury unbaptised children next to the tower so that as the rain fell on the roof it would drip onto the baby and baptise it."
Since August the church has been undergoing a £275,000 transformation as water around the church walls is damaging the structure. Other work includes under-floor heating, taking concrete off the church walls and replacing it with lime mortar and repairing the tower.
Reverend David Scott, 68, said: "We were quite surprised. It is all very interesting. Guy is very good and treats the bones very respectfully.
"I have seen the bodies. I don't mind that kind of thing!"
The bodies are now being stored until work in the cemetery is finished, which is expected by the end of this week.
All the bodies in the cemetery, including those in unmarked graves, will then be re-buried, and Reverend Scott will perform a burial service.
There will be a re-opening ceremony on December 4.
The congregation of around 100 people have been meeting in the premises of Age Concern across the road while work is ongoing.
Funding for the renovations came from the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, which provides grants to churches and charities across the county.