England

Bone dates 'earliest northerner', say archaeologists in Liverpool

  • 6 September 2013
  • From the section England
Dr Dave Wilkinson (left) and Ian Smith (right) in the bones lab at LJMU
Archaeologists discovered the remains of humans and animals in the early 1990s but they have been dated following a study into the findings.

Archaeologists have dated bones found in the 1990s as the earliest known human remains from northern Britain.

Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham analysed a leg bone found in Cumbria and found it to be more than 10,000 years old.

The bone and other fragments were excavated from Kents Bank Cavern on the edge of Morecambe Bay and are stored at The Dock Museum in Barrow.

The results have been published in the Journal of Quaternary Science.

'Important story'

Archaeologist Ian Smith, from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), said: "Previous cave burials of humans from around this date have been in southern England, with later dates further north."

Archaeologists Ian Smith at Kents Bank Cavern
Archaeologists dated bones that were preserved in Cumbrian caves

The study also dated the bones of an elk - a large deer species no longer found in Britain - and a horse to the end of the last Ice Age, between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago.

The study's co-author Dr Hannah O'Regan said: "Caves can preserve bones which would have decayed elsewhere, and once the material is excavated museums keep them for future study.

"Without these, we wouldn't have known about our earliest northerner."

Collections manager Sabine Skae, from The Dock Museum, added: "This collection tells an important story of the changing environment and early human activity in Cumbria."

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