EXPERTS exhuming human remains on the route of the new Freckleton Street link road have found the predicted number of graves – but several of them have multiple occupants.

Blackburn with Darwen highways boss Councillor Phil Riley said the number of interments in the grounds of the old St Peter’s Church was around the 200 the council archaeologists forecast.


But the number of sets of remains was significantly higher owing to repeat burials in the same graves.

However, he said it was not the ‘thousands’ a study by Oxford Archaeology North suggested might be interred on the line of the £4 million road – which gives a destination to the town’s £12 million Wainwright ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ – in September 2014.

Cllr Riley said: “Work started on the exhumations in June and is nearly complete.

“So far our archaeologists have found approximately the number of graves that was predicted – around 200, not thousands.

“However, there are significantly more sets of human remains as some of the graves have multiple burials.

“There are remains in some at two or three levels in some graves.

“The exhumations are being carried out sensitively and within the guidelines of the licence we have been granted.

“We are ensuring that relatives are being kept fully informed throughout the scheme.

“We will not release final numbers until the work is compete, the records have been collated and the relatives informed.

“The reburials will take place as planned with a special service led by the Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson to dedicate the memorial and the reinterments.”

The Wainwright Bridge was completed in 2008 but the key link in Blackburn’s Orbital Route was never built.

Any remains found to be buried after 1914 are being immediately reinterred following exhumation.

Archaeological analysis will take place on remains pre-1914 before they are also reburied.

The new road is on track to be completed by February.

Two memorial gardens are to be created on either side of the road.

Blackburn with Darwen Council Liberal Democrat Group Leader David Foster said: “I shall be interested to find out the final figure for remains and what the financial implications are for the council.

“When I asked about this a few months ago I was told any extra costs that resulted from finding more graves or remains could be accommodated within the project’s contingency budget.”