Discovery of 5,000 year old skull on the banks of the Avon

  • 3rd September 2013

Worcestershire Archaeology have featured in the news recently following the discovery of a human skull. Here Nick Daffern, Senior Environmental Archaeologist, tells us more about the processes taken to identify the find:

“On 20th March 2013 West Mercia Police were contacted by a member of the public. They had discovered what appeared to be a human skull to the west of Eckington Bridge on the northern bank of the River Avon (SO 92895 42236) whilst walking their dog. The skull was not complete with only the upper cranium represented. West Mercia Police believed the skull to be potentially archaeological in origin and contacted Worcestershire Archaeology. It is suggested that the skull is that of a female due to the absence of prominent brow ridges and the overall slightness of the skull.

The 5,000 year old skull discovered on the banks of the river Avon

The skull was submitted for radiocarbon dating to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) radiocarbon dating laboratory by Detective James Bayliss of West Mercia Police. A single bone sample was extracted from for AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) radiocarbon dating. The date 3338 – 3025 cal BC (SUERC–46228 (GU30346)) obtained from the radiocarbon dating proves that the remains are archaeological in nature and are Middle Neolithic in date.

Nick Daffern, Senior Environmental Archaeologist, with the discovery he has been working hard to help identify

The only previously identified human remains from Worcestershire, which are definitely Neolithic in date, were from a crouched inhumation encountered during excavations at Wormington Farm (SP039372) near Aston Somerville (Coleman et al 2006, 63).

Nick Daffern from Worcestershire Archaeology with Martin Evans, who discovered the skull

Interestingly, this is not the first skull to have been recovered from the banks of River Avon in similar circumstances. Another was recovered from the vicinity of Nafford Weir after the river had been in flood. Despite this, it is tempting to suggest that a Neolithic monument, possibly a cemetery, upstream of Eckington and Nafford is being eroded during high energy flood events of the River Avon and is introducing these buoyant, easily transportable and easily identifiable human remains into the water course.”

Once the Archaeology Service have completed investigations on the skull it will be handed over to Worcestershire Museums Service for display at either Hartlebury Museum or the Almonry Museum in Evesham.

More features on this story can be found on the Guardian website, the Daily Mail and on YouTube.

Comments are closed.

Related news

  • 24th June 2022
Worcestershire Heritage Day – Sat 16 July

We are pleased to be hosting a Worcestershire Heritage Day on Saturday 16th July, as part of The Hive at Ten events marking 10 years since The Hive opened. To celebrate this milestone, local heritage venues and organisations will be joining us between 10am and 4pm with displays and activities. There’ll be lots to see...

  • 22nd June 2022
Happy Windrush Day 2022

Happy Windrush Day 2022!   This is the fifth national celebration and marks 74 years since the SS Empire Windrush carried the first Caribbean migrants to the UK to help re-build Britain after WWII. Ancestors From Overseas Worcestershire Archive has two books of relevance in our reference library. These provide some useful background information and pointers...

  • 16th June 2022
Market Garden Heritage App

A new app has been launched on the Google Play and Apple Stores about market garden heritage in the Vale of Evesham. It is part of the culmination of the Market Gardening Heritage Project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service. The app brings together research and oral...