It is believed the remains were found near the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull, West Midlands, in November last year and since then, police have been trying to work out their origins.
But despite a large investigation, West Midlands Constabulary and archaeologists were unable to identify the people – except one woman, understood to have been called ‘Sarah’.
George John Funeral Directors organised a traditional Victorian funeral for the remains at Elmdon Church near to where they were found.
A horse-drawn carriage returned the bones inside a coffin marked “unknown persons”, Birmingham Live reports.
George Cutler, who owns the funeral firm, said: “There were no identifiers among the remains apart from part of a headstone. However the parts that we would normally need to ID the remains like the surname and the dates weren’t there.
“We could see that it said ‘Sarah, the wife of’ so we based our searches on that and started looking at survey maps, however there was never a cemetery in the spot where they were found. It was a bit of a mystery.”
A carbon dating test concluded the bones belonged to people who died some time between the 18th and 20th centuries. The coffin handles were then dated back to the 1800s.
Using ancestry, old survey maps and details on headstones in the area, researchers surmised the people had originally been buried in the nearby Elmdon Churchyard – although questions remain as to why they ended up so far away from their intended resting place.
George said: “The only graveyard near there was the one at the church and when we looked into it, we were able to say that this headstone had definitely been there at some point.
“We believe that when the church had an extension built over an older part of the graveyard, the instructions were to move these bodies to the other corners of the graveyard.
“We can’t be 100% sure it’s the same one, but when someone did a survey of the headstones after the extension, this headstone had gone missing.
“To us, it seems as if these remains were not moved where they were meant to. We don’t know why they were so far away, but probably because it was farmland at the time, whoever did it thought no one would know.”
The team retraced the bloodline of ‘Sarah’, the woman whose headstone was found among the remains, but discovered her only daughter had died.
The other 15 people could not be identified.
George, who helped host the funerals in April, said: “With their graves having been disturbed and moved, we wanted to put these people to rest in a way they would have been when they died.
“We agreed with the church to use one of their very old copies of the bible and got hold of some flaming torches, which is what they would have used back then.
“We wanted the coffin to be suited to that era so we liaised with the Coffin Works in Birmingham and they donated a set of handles too.”
He said a headstone is due to be erected at the graveside in due course.