A dog walker has come across an unexpected find whilst out in Somerset.
Roger Evans found a ‘well-preserved’ human skull whilst walking along the banks of the River Sowy.
He reported his findings to the police and it was analysed. After months of research, results revealed it belonged to a woman aged 45 or older during the late Iron Age (380-190BC) – several centuries before the first Roman invasion of Britain.
No other human remains were found, but the archaeologists discovered that the skull lay close to a series of round, timber posts driven deep into the river bed. Credit: Environment Agency
Analysis by a human bone expert showed that the female skull suffered considerably from gum disease and tooth loss.
Her diet included coarse material, which had unevenly worn her remaining teeth, and resulted in severe osteoarthritis in the joint of her right jaw. She had also suffered at least one episode of chronic illness or nutritional stress during childhood.
The woman’s head also appears to have been deliberately removed at, or shortly after death. Archeologists say such discoveries are becoming more common.
Severed heads are not an unusual discovery for the Iron Age, but the placement of the skull in a wetland beside a wooden structure is very rare, possibly reflecting a practice of making ritual offerings in watery environments. RICHARD BRUNNING, SOUTH WEST HERITAGE TRUST