THIRTY-one people were given a funeral service yesterday – hundreds of years after their deaths.

Their remains –thought to date from medieval times – had been found during excavations two years ago ahead of the refurbishment of Wimborne Square.

Local undertaker Nicholas O’Hara offered to provide 31 wooden boxes for the skeletons to be reinterred at Wimborne Cemetery in Colehill. He has also paid for carbon dating to establish how long ago they lived. Results are expected in six to eight weeks’ time.

The Rev Vanessa Herrick, rector of Wimborne Minster, conducted yesterday’s service.

She said: “When they died, they would have been given a Christian burial with dignity in a churchyard.

“The fact that they’ve been uncovered during the excavation is because of the enhancement of the Square but it was really important that those bones were reinterred with the same dignity they were interred with 600-700 years ago. They would have been part of this town and it’s right that we, as part of the town, show them our respect.”

The bodies are thought to have been buried at St Peter’s Church, which stood at the location of the current Square.

The town’s mayor, Cllr Andrew Hampton, said; “Wimborne is a close community and these were residents of that community an awfully long time ago. As residents of the town, we should pay our respects to those residents from all that time ago.”

Nicholas O’Hara praised the work done by archaeologists Keith Childs and Gill Broadbent of the Priest’s House Museum, where the remains were kept before the re-internment. He said he had been happy to sponsor the carbon dating. “They said they would like to find out the dates but couldn’t afford to do it. I said I would sponsor that because as a Wimborne lad myself it would be nice to know,” he said.