Bristol Jewish leaders have accused the city council and a local school of insensitivy after not being consulted over a building plan for a medieval Jewish cemetery site.
Queen Elizabeth's Hospital school has submitted proposals to add a classroom block to its Brandon Hill premises. When the school was built in 1846, Jewish graves were uncovered.
Bristol Jewish Burial Society's Alex Schlesinger has written to QEH expressing disappointment at the lack of consultation. "The proposals are galling. The school can't say that they didn't know the site is the location of the medieval Jewish burial ground.
"If graves are found, we should be asked to arrange reburial. The graves should be properly recorded. Medieval gravestones are extremely rare. We just don't know what happened to the disturbed graves in the 1850s." Mr Schlesinger has lodged his objections with Bristol Council and has requested a meeting. Eighty-five other objections have been made.
The council says its archaeology team's view was that remains were unlikely to be found. However, if planning permission was granted, archaeological investigation would take place with "the respectful treatment of any burials found through liaison with the relevant authorities".
If graves are found, we should be asked to arrange reburial
QEH head Stephen Holliday said: "The site has a thin layer of top soil and then you hit rock after a few feet. So it is unlikely to be the site of burials. I understand the sensitivities of the Jewish community and if planning permission is granted we would work with them."
Bristol was home to a Jewish community from around 1140 to 1290. What is believed to be Britain's oldest mikveh site, Jacob's Well, is nearby in Hotwells.