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23 October 1999
Pagans protest against a Christian burial

Pagans have protested against a decision to give the bones of a Bronze Age man a Christian burial. They claim that, since the man was born at least a thousand years before Christ and probably worshipped trees and animals, it was wrong to "inflict" the ceremony on his remains.
      The 3,000-year-old skeleton was uncovered in 1943 in the back of one of the three main caverns, since named the Bone Cave, in South Wales and has been on display to the public ever since, alongside a few crude grave goods found with him. Its and other remains belonged to members of a Bronze Age community that would have been 30 or 40 strong and who, for most of the year, lived in wooden huts outside the caves, kept animals and farmed the land.
      The young man, who is believed to have died of injuries inflicted during a battle with a rival tribe, was reinterred in a 2ft wooden casket at a ceremony performed by a Church in Wales vicar. The box was laid to rest in the centre of a stone circle recently erected at the Dan-yr-Ogof show caves as part of the complex's millennium celebrations, alongside a "time capsule" containing work by local schoolchildren.
      Welsh pagans, who prefer druidical rites, are disappointed that they were not invited to participate in the reburial because they believe that they have more in common with the prehistoric warrior than the Rev David Phipps, minister of the nearby parish of Abercrave. Mark Kay, a member of a local Celtic pagan group, which calls itself Isis Brigantia, said: "This man lived a millennium before Christ and would have been beyond any doubt a pagan who worshipped a number of animal gods. His belief system was completely different from that of Christians. There would be a hell of a stink if Christian remains were dug up and given a pagan burial."
      Dr Phipps insisted that he had made the ceremony as "sensitive" and as brief as possible. He said: "We live in a Christian culture and, at the end of the day, we all believe in a God. Pagans are of course entitled to their views, but I personally think they are wrong."

Source: The Times (22 october 99)

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