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31 May 2010
Missing ancient bones returned to Irish museum

Human remains taken from the site where they were recently discovered have been returned to the Donegal County Museum in Letterkenny (Ireland). Assistant Curator Caroline Carr made an emotional appeal to the public for their safe return on the day preceding. They were returned to Ms. Carr at the museum by TG4 reporter Aine Ni Bhreisleain on behalf of an amateur archaeologist who wished to remain anonymous. The man had become worried about the safety of the bones over the holiday weekend, due to visitors in the area, and had removed them for safe-keeping. Ms. Carr had discovered the bones on the Friday, but left them as they were. Although happy and and relieved to recover the bones, Ms. Carr emphasized the importance of the discovery's surroundings in providing critical information about the individual whose remains were found there. She stressed that removing the bones and other objects from the site had destroyed it, even though the actions were meant to be helpful. "We would urge anyone who has any concerns about the safety of such sites, not to touch anything but to contact the gardai."
     Ms. Carr discovered the bone fragments, believed to belong to a child or young adult, at a coastal quarry in Lunniagh, Gweedore at the end of April. She was asked to investigate at the quarry by the National Museum, after the remains of a female skeleton that could be up to 4,000 years old, were discovered the previous week. While there, she found evidence of several possible sites that could yield more human remains. As Ms. Carr was beginning to take photographs to document the site, she noticed bone fragments in a sand bank. "I turned around to get my camera and the sand started shifting and bones started appearing in front of me. They were photographed, GPS'd, witnessed by gardai and left in situ but when a team of archaeologists arrived at the site on Monday, they had been deliberately removed," she said. The next step in studying the human remains will involve determing their age, and how the individual may have died.
     
Sources: The Independent (5 May 2010), Belfast Telegraph (6 May 2010)

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