As Colchester funeral directors, we are honoured to have helped the Colchester Archaeological Trust to create a peaceful final resting place for the historic remains of long-ago residents of Britain’s oldest town, now one of Essex’s newest cities. The newly created grave, located within the grounds of Colchester Cemetery, is marked with a simple gravestone. This was skilfully crafted by our own stonemasons from the Hunnaball Memorials division, at our workshop on the outskirts of the city, and is engraved on both sides to allow members of the public to find it easily.

In 2022, the Colchester Archaeological Trust approached Hunnaball of Colchester to help ensure that the remains of people long deceased could have a final undisturbed resting place. Having served the community of Colchester for some forty years, we were delighted to oversee the permanent interment of Colchester’s former residents, and this new burial site has now received its first set of human remains, recovered during the course of archaeological excavations in the city.

In October 2023, the new gravestone, commemorating those who could not be identified, was unveiled in a ceremony organised jointly by the Colchester Archaeological Trust, Hunnaball of Colchester and Colchester Cemetery. Present at the unveiling were Victoria Sands and Megan Beale from the Colchester Archaeological Trust, Saul Hunnaball and Mark Ingram from the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, and Russell Gadsby from the Colchester Cemetery Office.

In the course of new building or landscaping in the Colchester area, the original burial sites of those who died many centuries ago are occasionally uncovered. These locations may not have been historic consecrated ground, or may have been the sites of places of worship which are now long gone. While these long deceased cannot remain where they are found, the Colchester Archaeological Trust and the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group rightly believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of the date of their demise; hence the need for a new permanent grave, which was generously donated by Colchester Cemetery.

Saul Hunnaball, Director of the Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, commented, “Every person discovered in these archaeological projects was a part of their local community. As Colchester funeral directors, we feel we owe it to our ancestors to treat them with the same dignity and care as if they had passed away today. We were honoured to be asked to assist in creating this landmark monument and grave, and to conduct a simple ceremony in which recently recovered historic human remains could be interred. This new memorial will serve to honour those who lived in what was Britain’s oldest town and whose labours once helped to lay the foundations of our now more modern city. We are delighted that they are now safe in a location that current Colchester residents can visit.”

Megan Beale, Project Osteologist at Colchester Archaeological Trust said, “As an Osteologist we must help to recreate the stories of the individuals we remove during excavation. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that these people receive ethical and respectful treatment – part of this includes reburial. We are hugely grateful to Hunnaball of Colchester for their continued collaboration with Colchester Archaeological Trust. We appreciate everyone’s involvement in the reburial of these ancient human remains.”

The grave has capacity to receive further human remains discovered by the Colchester Archaeological Trust in future years. It can be found in the grounds of Colchester Cemetery, Mersea Road, Colchester.

Photo Shows L to R: Victoria Sands, Senior Post Excavation Assistant, Colchester Archaeological Trust; Megan Beale, Project Osteologist, Colchester Archaeological Trust; Saul Hunnaball, Director, Hunnaball Family Funeral Group; Russell Gadsby, Bereavement Services Manager, Colchester Cemetery Office; Mark Ingram, Head of Branch Network, Hunnaball Family Funeral Group.