Skeletal collection

Priory Orchard Skeletal Collection

The Priory Orchard osteological collection includes all the remains excavated in 2012-2015 by Surrey County Archaeological Unit from the Priory Orchard cemetery site in Godalming, Surrey.  The cemetery was in use between ca. 850-1200 CE. Most radiocarbon dates, however, are earlier than the mid 11th century CE and the overall evidence suggests that most burials are Late Anglo-Saxon. The cemetery was abandoned around the year 1200 CE and became the orchard of the priory, remaining untouched until construction of affordable housing started on the site in 2014.

The collection includes the skeletal remains of several hundred individuals: about 300 articulated primary burials and probably about 500 disarticulated individuals from disturbed burials, reinterred inside or near the grave cut that disturbed them during the time of use of the cemetery. The preservation varies from very good to poor.

The work of cleaning, recording and studying the remains is still under way at the University of Roehampton, unfortunately delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. As of May 2021, we have cleaned 197 articulated burials including 14 children and 183 adults, of which 56 probable females and 87 probable males (others undetermined). In addition, we have cleaned and studied the remains of about 320 disarticulated individuals from disturbed burials. All of the cleaned individuals are accessible by external researchers, and a detailed datasheet can be requested by emailing the curator, Dr Lia Betti ( More information on accessing the collection can be found here.

Roehampton students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) interested in doing their dissertation of the collection, are welcome to contact Dr Betti and discuss potential project. Students are also invited to volunteer during the summer to help with the cleaning and studying of the still-untouched remains.