Archaeologists carried out delicate excavation work this week following the discovery of a ‘substantial’ Roman building and the remains of a Roman youth.
Last summer the skeletal remains of the youth were found under a yard off Moat Lane and, in accordance with archaeological practice, they were recorded, identified and preserved where they were found.
The second phase of archaeology and the recommencement of demolition works at Moat Lane restarted on Monday after a delay caused by nesting birds on the site.
Mark Brett, the project leader on site for Cotswold Archaeology said the body was not a significant find, but more would be learnt in the next few months as the finds are analysed.
He said although the head was absent, it was likely the body was buried complete and the head went missing during later activity on the site.
He added: “We suspect it to be Roman, it is certainly not Christian because it is not buried on a north to south alignment and is fairly typical of a Roman burial.
“The head is missing, it was probably completely intact when it was buried, but it has been disturbed by later activity, including the installation of what looks like a 19th century sewage pipe. We’ve got nothing to suggest the circumstances of the death yet, but we’ve found various pieces of Roman waste including jug handles, Roman glass with its distinctive colour, Roman ceramics and animal bones.
“What we do now is systematically lift every part of the body separately, arms and ribs and pelvis and each leg, and any Roman material within the grave will be looked at thoroughly to see if there’s any dating evidence.”
He added: “I’ve been an archaeologist for 20 years and it is still exciting, you never know what you’re going to find. Obviously every case like this, eventually has a story to tell.”
The burial site is blocked from public view and workers have been told to treat the site with reverence. The body may be reburied.
Mr Brett said the more significant find behind Victoria House was a substantial structure with a Roman road running alongside it.
Fencing will be rearranged behind Victoria House to allow members of the public to view the remains of the building from today, Friday.
Councillor Rupert Fordham, South Northants councillor for regeneration, said: “A development of this kind is bound to throw up some interesting finds and challenges and the correct procedures are being followed to deal with them. It is good news that work on phase one of the project can now restart and although there is bound to be some disruption this will be kept to a minimum.”