|31 December 2005
Teesside skull one of UK's oldest
The remains of Teesside's (England) oldest man, at 5,230 years old, were found on Coatham beach by a local butcher as he exercised his dog and he had no doubt that the grey dish-shaped bone was from the back of a human skull. Detectives were called in but with the help of one of the world's top forensic anthropologists, they discovered the skull of the 30-year-old man was Neolithic.
Detective Constable Chris Marchant, of Cleveland Police, said: "Carbon dating has pinpointed the age but the scientist who looked at it was also able to give us the sex and age of the individual. She was able to tell us that there are no signs of any traumatic injury and the bone appears to have become detached from the rest of the skull through natural processes." Marine growth on the bone suggests that it has been in the sea for some time and the consensus among experts is that it probably came from an ancient burial ground that has been eroded by the sea.
Det Con Marchant added: "For its age it is remarkably well preserved, so well in fact a hospital pathologist thought it was quite recent." Peter Rowe, sites and monuments officer for Tees Archaeology, said it was an extremely rare find. "This dates from the Neolithic period when people were just moving away from being hunter gatherers to growing cereal crops and herding cattle and sheep," he said. "This man may have been in a bog burial somewhere on the coast - similar to the skeleton on display in the museum at Hartlepool." The bone is currently under safe keeping at a CID office.
Source: Evening Gazette (20 December 2005)
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