Recently an e-petition was put on the government website regarding the reburial of bones at Stonehenge, the petition has now closed and the government response is given below.

 Details of Petition:

“There is currently a huge archaeological dig taking place at Stonehenge (The Riverside Project) August/September 2008. The Senior Archaeologists concerned – Mike Pitts, Julian Richards and Mike Parker Pearson are looking at several areas at Stonehenge including the Aubrey Holes specifically No.7 which contains the remains of up to 50 bodies – The Guardians of Stonehenge. These archaeologists have removed these remains from the ground and they have been sent away for analysis. They will give no confirmation that these remains will be returned to their resting place at Stonehenge. Much can be learned from archaeological testing but, the fact that these remains could end there days in a box is wrong. These bodies were buried at Stonehenge by our ancestors for a reason and have lain there for thousands of years. This is an issue that effects all of us the world over, there is no difference in archaeologists going into Mecca and removing the stones, or going in to Vatican City and disinterring a Pope. These are the bones of this country’s ancestors and should be returned to the ground at Stonehenge.”

Government’s response

“Thank you for your e-petition. A licence for the removal of human remains at Stonehenge was granted by the Ministry of Justice in May 2008. One of the conditions of the licence was that the remains should be reinterred within two years and that in the intervening period they should be kept safely, privately and decently. In April 2008, the Ministry of Justice issued a statement entitled ‘Burial Law and Archaeology’ to clarify the basis on which applications for the exhumation of human remains for archaeological examination would be treated – this can be accessed at This makes clear that licences would be issued with time limits for re-burial but where there was a legitimate need for remains to be kept for longer, it would be possible to apply for an extension. The Government recognises that some people have strongly held beliefs with regards to human remains, but believes that these need to be balanced against the legitimate public interest in the scientific study of ancient human remains and the educational and historic value that such remains can provide. The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing burial law and looking at possible changes in order to reflect contemporary attitudes and sensibilities towards human remains. We expect to consult on any proposals in due course.