Human skull found on British beach may have come from shipwreck lost many centuries ago

The remains of a human skull found on a UK beach could be hundreds of years old, officials say.

The remains were found on a beach in Cornwall, England, according to a Cornwall Council press release. Emily Stevenson, the co-founder of an environmental group called the Beach Guardian, came across the remains in early January while organizing a coast cleanup.

“The beach cleanup we hosted that day was like any other and I set out as usual to scour the sand dunes for plastic. The dunes are a great place to spot old junk as the sand has been able to preserve it perfectly for decades – only now I really know that no plastic is preserved here!” she said in the press release.

Skull stays in Cornwall
The remains of a human skull found on the Cornish coast in January 2023.

Cornwall Council

The find was investigated by Devon and Cornwall Police and Cornwall Council’s Strategic Historic Environment Team. The group noted that the remains were “historic in nature”.

Ann Reynolds, the senior officer at Cornwall Council’s Rural Historic Environment team, said in the press release it was clear the skull had been “there for some time” and said it was possible the remains belonged to a “lost” Shipwreck victims could belong many centuries ago and were buried by local people.”

Reynolds said similar remains were found in November 2022. However, those found in January are better preserved because they were encased in sand. The remains found in November are also believed to have belonged to a shipwrecked man.

“Historical burials tend to appear every few years or so, but it’s more unusual for two sets of remains to appear over two months,” Reynolds said. “It serves as a reflection of the ever-changing shoreline and the potential to discover more archaeological remains, especially at this time of year.”

Reynolds said the bones found in January were being dug up and analyzed to find out information such as the age of the bones and where the victim came from.

In a press release announcing the find of the November remains, Cornwall Council said it “is not uncommon to find such remains along the Cornish coast”, particularly after stormy weather and cliff falls. If people find bones or other remains on the beaches, they are advised to call the police immediately. Leftovers should not be touched or moved. Human skull found on British beach may have come from shipwreck lost many centuries ago

Rick Schindler

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