Click here for 1998 pictures.
That said, the sewerage works uncovered a remarkable archaeological
"find". It has long been suspected that the present-day main square conceals
a very old burial ground, associated with the former Tavistock Abbey, dissolved
by Henry VIII in the 16th century. It was not entirely unexpected, therefore,
to come across some very old bones during the excavation to lay new drainage
pipes under Bedford Square. It was more than the archaeologists had hoped
for, though, to find them enclosed in very up-market stone coffins, complete
with pillow-stones, carved from locally quarried Hurdwick stone (see picture).
Altogether, three coffins were unearthed.
The skeletons and a small number of artefacts, notably pewter chalices, buried with the bodies, have been removed for the attention of the county arcaeologists, and the work of renewing the town drains continues. Preliminary expert opinion is that such a style of burial, close to if not actually beneath the High Altar of the former Abbey, must be associated with very senior people, and this grave is likely to have been that of the Abbot himself. No doubt we shall hear more in due course and we hope that the artefacts will eventually be returned to the town.
Updated 30 June 1997. Link to 1998 Balloon Fiesta added 23 May 1998.