Human Bones Discovered Under Church Floor Skip to content

Human Bones Discovered Under Church Floor

Construction workers discovered human bones underneath the floor of Útskálakirkja church in Gardur on Reykjanes peninsula on Thursday. The church is currently being renovated, so the flooring had to be removed.

“After cleaning up we realized that there were at least three persons buried here, and probably more,” Agnes Stefánsdóttir, Director of Planning and Building Issues at the Archaeological Heritage Agency of Iceland, who was called to the scene, told Morgunbladid.

It is believed that the bones may belong to a mass grave from the latter part of the 17th century. “Ten boats were destroyed in a storm here and 89 people drifted to land in two days. They were placed in a mass grave in the graveyard [surrounding Útskálakirkja church], but its exact location is unknown,” Stefánsdóttir said.

The bones, both from children and adults, were in loose earth and almost directly underneath the floor. The remains are believed to be so scattered because Útskálakirkja church was enlarged in 1895, during which graves were probably discovered, larger bones were collected and replaced while smaller bones were left scattered underneath the floor.

Stefánsdóttir said the remains will be further investigated and that it is impossible to say how old they are at the moment and uncertain whether it can be determined at all. Útskálakirkja church was built in 1860, but another church stood there before that time.

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