Workers find hundreds of bones in black bags on a building site

Stunned workers find hundreds of human bones from up to six people buried in black plastic bags dating as far back as the 1950s on building site

  • The unusual find was made on January 21 at a building site in Whitstable, Kent  
  • Not clear why bones were buried, but black plastic bags introduced in 1950s  
  • Archaeologists believe they were discovered previously and then reburied 

Stunned builders found hundreds of bones from up to six people buried in black plastic bags on the site of an old garage. 

Contractors using a digger found a rubble bag buried six feet below ground at the location in Whitstable, Kent, on January 21. 

Realising it contained bones, they called police, who found a second bag with a forensics team.

Police are currently looking into the age of the bones (pictured here near where they were found in Whitstable, Kent) but have not opened a criminal investigation. File photo 

One of the rubble bags that were found stuffed full of bones by workmen digging at the site 

Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s archives manager, Andrew Richardson confirmed the remains were from multiple people.

He said: ‘There are quite a few bones there – we think at least four individuals based on the number of long bones, perhaps more.’

It is not clear how many bones were in the second bag, or why they were buried, but black plastic bags first came into use in the 1950s.

Mr Richardson added: ‘Based on their colour and fragmentary nature, I’d say that these represent older burials disturbed and reburied.

‘They may have originally been found nearby but they could just have easily have been disturbed elsewhere and reburied there.

‘Hopefully the police have this in hand, although Canterbury Archaeological Trust would be willing to assist if needed.


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‘An osteologist could establish how many individuals are present and provide estimates of their ages at death and biological sex.

‘These bones have been in the ground for some time, how long is hard to say.’

Robert Green, OBE, a leading forensic science lecturer at Kent University, said police should look into ‘missing persons’.

He said: ‘Investigators will be doing their work on things like missing persons, were there any reported homicides at the time.

‘Did people go missing, what was on that site at that time, what was there before and since been demolished.

‘Were there any signs of foul play, any broken bones – ultimately they will be looking to recover long bones to extract DNA.

‘There is a number of cases where bones have been linked back through maternal or paternal DNA lines.’

Contractors using a digger found the first rubble bag buried six feet below ground at the location (pictured)

Police are currently looking into the age of the bones but said they have not yet opened a criminal investigation.

A source at the building site told Kent Live the bones could have been from as many as six people based on the number of fragments. 

Kent Police said: ‘A number of bones were found in one small area of the site in Shaftesbury Road, which has been undergoing excavation work for the past six months.

‘Experts confirmed the bones are human and are now working to establish their age. This process could take several weeks.

‘No further bones have been found at the site despite further excavation as a result of this discovery.

‘Enquiries remain ongoing and officers will review whether any further action needs to be taken in due course.’

Realising the bag contained bones, the builders called police, who found a second bag with a forensics team. The site (pictured) will soon be turned into housing 

Nine houses and eight flats are to be built at the site, which was formerly a Days Garage.

While the history of the land is unclear, city councillor Brian Baker recalled a car firm being there 60 years ago.

He said: ‘I lived in Middle Wall at the Days Garage end in the early 1960s.

‘My brother and I often played with the son of the garage’s owner, in the scrap cars parked in the compound.

‘Although this is now a dry area, it was once the beachline, before the Island Wall was built to prevent the sea encroaching onto the land.’

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