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15 October 2006
Ancient skeleton to return home

The 26,000-year-old skeleton discovered in the Paviland cave on Gower is set to return to Wales. The skeleton known as the Red Lady of Paviland, was discovered in the 1820s and taken to Oxford University. The National Museum of Wales said a deal had been struck in principle with the university to borrow the remains. It said the skeleton would be on display for a year as part of its centenary celebrations in 2007.
     The news is being celebrated by Swansea councillor Ioan Richard, who is among those who have campaigned for years for their return. "This is a nationally important archaeological relic and is part of our heritage," he said. "We are not clear where it will go to in Wales, but I would hope it could go to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea." Andy Heath, who edits the Oxford Student magazine, confirmed the museum directors have agreed to the relics returning to Wales. "That agreement is subject to practical considerations being worked out for its return," he said. "It will go to Cardiff or Swansea. It's not clear which," he added.
     The skeleton was discovered by the Reverend William Buckland, also a palaeontologist, who removed the bones. As the skeleton was stained with red ochre and elaborately buried with artefacts, Buckland misinterpreted the find as a young female prostitute from Roman times. But the body turned out to be that of a young man, who was many thousands of years older, and had been buried with great dignity and ritual.
     The skeleton is set to feature in a new archaeology gallery at the museum called Origins: In Search of Early Wales The museum's director general Michael Houlihan said: "The national museum is delighted with this decision as it will provide an excellent focus for the opening of this exciting new gallery."

Sources: BBC News (11 October 2006), This is South Wales, Evening Post (14 October 2006)

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