A skull found on a UK beach may be from a centuries-old shipwreck victim

Officials say the remains of a human skull found on a UK beach could be hundreds of years old.

The remains were found on a beach in Cornwall, England, according to a Cornwall Council press release. Emily Stevenson, co-founder of a local environmental group called Beach Guardian, came across the remains in early January while organizing a shoreline cleanup.

“The beach cleaning we hosted that day was like any other, and as usual I went to scour the dunes for plastic. The dunes are a great place to discover old junk as the sand can perfectly preserve it for decades – only now I really know it’s not the plastic that’s preserved here!” she said in a press release.

Human skull remains found off Cornwall coast in January 2023 / Source: Cornwall Council

Remains of a human skull found on the Cornish coast in January 2023 / Source: Cornwall Council

The find was investigated by Devon and Cornwall Police as well as Cornwall Council’s Strategic Historic Environment team. The group determined that the remains were “historical in nature”.

Ann Reynolds, senior officer of Cornwall Council’s Rural Historic Environment team, said in a press release that it was clear the skull had “lay there for some time” and said it was possible the remains could be that of a shipwreck victim “missing” . many centuries ago and buried by the local people.

Reynolds said similar remains were found in November 2022. However, those found in January are better preserved because they were buried in sand. The remains found in November are also believed to have belonged to a shipwreck victim.

“Historic burials occur roughly every few years, but the appearance of two sets of remains within two months is more remarkable,” Reynolds said. “It serves as a reflection of the ever-changing coastline and the opportunity to discover more archaeological remains, especially at this time of year.”

Reynolds said the bones found in January will be dug up and analyzed to find out how old they are and where the victim might have come from.

In a press release announcing the November find of the remains, Cornwall Council said it was “not unusual to find such remains along the Cornish coast”, particularly after stormy weather and cliff falls. If people find bones or other debris on the beaches, they should call the police immediately. Residues should not be touched or moved.

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