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The Historic Environment Record is the primary index about the physical remains of past human activity in the unitary authority of West Berkshire. Not all records are published on the Heritage Gateway. Please read the important guidance on the use of the West Berkshire HER data.



HER Number MWB3457
Record Type Monument
Name The Litten Cemetery, Newbury

Grid Reference SU 469 666
Map Sheet SU46NE
Parish Newbury, West Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Summary

Burial ground for the medieval hospital of St Bartholomew, of unknown exact extent although burials have been found on several occasions

Associated Legal Designations or Protected Status

  • Conservation Area: Newbury Town Centre

Other Statuses and Cross-References

  • Berkshire SMR No. (pre 2000): 01389.09.300
  • SHINE Candidate (Probable)

Monument Type(s):

Full Description

The Litten cemetery served the medieval hospital of St Bartholomew's between the early 13th century and mid 16th century. Its full extent is unknown, although an area known as 'The Litten' was marked on a triangle of land between Argyle Road and Newtown Road on a plan of 'The City' c1796-1814 <1>. Human remains have been found close to the Litten Chapel on many occasions. The name "Litten" has been associated with burial grounds.

A history of Berkshire published in 1769 described the site as, "an old chapel, now converted into a dwelling house: the burying ground adjoining lies waste", and according to an old inhabitant of Newbury then, when a may-pole was erected many years before, a lot of human bones were found <2>. When Newtown Road was widened in 1825 skeletons were uncovered which were reburied in the garden of the Litten <3> <4>. In 1926 a number of human bones including skulls were found in a pit in front of Litten House during alterations. They were sent to the Anthropological Department of the University of College of Wales for assessment <5>. Apparently yet more bones were found in 1929 and again in 1935 <6>; it is possible that some of these discoveries may be the refinding of bones already buried. In 1980 more human remains were found during building work around the Litten Chapel: one skeleton was uncovered to the south of the Chapel and another within the 1849 building (at the base of the lift shaft) <1>. Skeletons found on the north side of Pound Street may also belong to this cemetery (See MWB16160) <7>.

In 2004 human remains were uncovered beneath the pavements of Pound Street and Newtown Road just outside the Litten garden during highway works. Oxford Archaeology carried out a rescue excavation in July and August. Fifty nine inter-cutting graves and a quantity of charnel bones were revealed; 56 individuals were represented by articulated skeletons, and there were the disarticulated bones of at least 19 further individuals. The burials were all orientated east-west, and there was some evidence recovered for coffins (nails and soil staining). However, there were many inter-cutting graves.

This discovery enabled a rare sample of a medieval hospital population to be scientifically analysed, showing evidence of malnutrition, genetic abnormalities and diseases such as tuberculosis and a single incidence of congenital syphilis.

Following the discovery of the human remains in Pound Street, the GIS polygon for the cemetery has been extended from The Litten garden to cover the road to the north.

Sources and further reading

<01>Newbury District Field Club. 1998. TRANS NEWBURY DISTRICT FIELD CLUB 1998 VOL 14 NO 2/3. Plan in p46-68 The "City", Newbury, Continued by Paul Cannon. [Article in serial / SWB12918]
<02>1769. A Description of England and Wales - Berkshire volume. p97. [Monograph / SWB14151]
<03>Garlick, V F M. 1970. The Newbury Scrapbook. p94. [Monograph / SWB13220]
<04>Money, W. 1905 & 1972. A Popular History of Newbury (also Walter Money's History of Newbury). p166. [Monograph / SWB11278]
<05>Newbury Borough Library & Museum Committee. 1926. Newbury Borough Library & Museum Committee Minutes 1926 - bones discovery. [Article in serial / SWB13205]
<06>Newbury Weekly News. 31/01/1935. Newbury Weekly News 31/01/1935. [Article in serial / SWB14152]
<07>Higgott, A R. 2004. Conversation between Sarah Orr and Tony Higgott 15/07/04. [Verbal communication / SWB14153]
<08>Oxford Archaeology. 2006. Excavations at the Litten Medieval Cemetery, Newbury, West Berkshire. OA Job No 2367. On Contractor's website. https://library.thehumanjourney.net/559/. [Unpublished document / SWB14652]
https://library.thehumanjourney.net/559/ (Accessed 22/05/2017)

Related Monuments

MWB16160The Candy Box, 2 Pound Street, Newbury (Monument)
MWB3453St Bartholomew's Hospital (Monument)
MWB3454Litten Chapel, Newtown Road, Newbury (Building)
MWB16161Litten House, Newtown Road, Newbury (The Litten) (Building)

Associated Excavations and Fieldwork

EWB868The Litten Medieval Cemetery, Newbury (Ref: Site Code NEWR04)