2000-Year-Old Skeleton Discovered off England's Isle of Wight

Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0
Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

In 2015, brothers Hubert and Graham Smyth made a morbid—and fascinating—discovery on a beach on England’s Isle of Wight: a human skeleton that experts now say is nearly 2000 years old. According to news outlet On The Wight, the bones will be donated to a local museum. 

The Smyths unearthed the remains on Fishbourne Beach in the silt at low tide. Local officials collected the bones before the tide returned, and noted that the skeleton was lying on its side with its arms against its chest and its knees bent. No clothing or personal items were found.

Experts examined the bones to see if they yielded any clues. “My first job was to establish if this was a recently deceased person or something a little older—possibly from a long washed away graveyard attached to the nearby Quarr Abbey,” coroner Caroline Sumeray explained to On The Wight. “If the body was recently deceased, I needed to rule out an unnatural death.”

A forensic pathologist, Basil Perdue, used carbon dating to determine the age of the remains. Sumeray told reporters they were “stunned” to find out that the skeleton—a womandated back to the Late Iron Age, between 28 and 90 CE.  “My lady is indeed a long time dead!” she told On The Wight.

Post-mortem examinations revealed that the skeleton was a woman whose upper left arm bone and left collarbone were shorter than those on her body’s right side. Her cause of death wasn’t apparent, but experts think that long before she died, she may have suffered from a congenital deformity, or a right-sided stroke that caused muscle wasting on her body’s left side.

The bones will be stored, recorded, and given to the Isle of Wight Museum. "I think that’s going to be the best place for her,” Sumeray told On The Wight.

[h/t On The Wight]