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The Hertfordshire Mercury is reporting the discovery of a (possibly) macabre mystery that has local police scratching their heads in wonder.

Church caretakers discovered a fresh grave dug in the church’s 12th-century cemetery and they are unsure who is in it or who might have put it there. It is unknown when the unmarked grave was first found, but it was reported to police on April 3rd. The grave lies in a small graveyard next to the Old Church of Saint James in Stanstead Abbotts in East Hertfordshire, England. Forensic experts were called to the scene and confirmed that human bones were found in the top layer of the soil.

Hertfordshire Police released this image of the grave taken with a 12th-century camera.

Some reports claim that the grave is less than a year old, while others contend it could be decades old.  Chief Inspector Gerry McDonald told BBC News that despite seeking to get to the bottom of the unmarked grave (so to speak), law enforcement officials are treating the matter with the utmost sensitivity in order to honor the sanctity of the dead:

The site could date back over a number of decades. This is obviously a sensitive issue and out of respect for the family concerned, we will not be releasing any further details relating to the grave.

The bones in the grave were confirmed as human, although their age is still being determined.

Several eyewitnesses report seeing a mysterious individual visit and tend to the grave, but their identity and intentions remain unknown. Hertfordshire detective inspector Anna Borella told the Hertfordshire Mercury that police still have no leads and are thus forced to seek the public’s help in finding the culprit:

The grave is situated close to the church and there are no graves directly next to it, so anyone visiting may stand out. We are appealing to anyone who has seen someone visit the mystery grave or who has information which may help us identify it, to contact us.

Part of the difficulty in solving this mystery is due to the fact that the church is basically abandoned and only used a few times a year as a community center. The church’s history can be traced to the twelfth century but is believed to possibly date back to the fifth century. Could this simply be a case of a modern-day individual seeking to be reunited with the bones of her ancestors, or could something foul be afoot? For now, it remains a mystery; police are still investigating.

With the costs of funeral services rising, maybe this is just a curious case of corpse-care cost-cutting.