The skeletons were found on Saturday at the village of Wintringham at the dig of an old Roman settlement dating back to around the 3rd century A.D., according to archeologists. Eleven decapitated skulls were found at the feet of the human skeletal remains. Six additional skeletons were found as well.
“These results add greatly to our understanding of the local landscape’s history which we can now share with local communities,” said Patrick Moan of Oxford Archeology, who is managing the dig.
Other Roman artifacts, including a kiln, coins, pottery, jewelry, and tools used to grind grain were also found.
The area was also home to an Iron Age settlement, and archaeologists have discovered evidence of 40 roundhouses and farming activities. After the archaeological work is done, the area will be developed for housing, according to the BBC.
The project will be featured on “Digging for Britain,” a British television show focusing on historical finds in the country.
Similar burial sites have been discovered in the past, with experts suggesting that the decapitated skeletons might belong to criminals or outcasts, though beheading was a “normal, albeit marginal, burial rite.”
In February 2022, 40 beheaded skeletons were discovered at an old Roman town about 55 miles north of London uncovered during construction work on a new high-speed train. They were found as part of a larger burial of more than 400 individuals who had lived in the settlement.
“Decapitation was one of the four main methods of execution sanctioned by Roman law” and is believed to have been a popular choice among lawmakers across Roman Britain,” said Cambridge archeologist Rob Wiseman. “Although what the purpose [of that ritual] was remains uncertain.”
The Romans had a foothold in Britain from around 43 A.D. to 410 A.D. when Emperor Honorius refused to send troops to help the Britains fight the Saxons, Scots, Picts, and Angles. Although Julius Caesar did bring two military expeditions into Britain in 55 and 54 B.C., the Romans did not conquer the island until Emperor Claudius.
The infrastructure built by the Romans left an impact across the country, including the building of a 73-mile wall by Emperor Hadrian in 122 A.D. to mark the northern bounds of imperial rule.