Monday 10 Mar 2014
Druids are calling for the remains of a three-year-old Neolithic child to be reburied at Avebury in Wiltshire, out of respect, but archaeologists insist the skeleton – currently on display at the Alexander Keiller Museum – should be kept available for research purposes.
The skeleton, known as Charlie, was discovered during excavations at the Neolithic Windmill Hill site, near Avebury, by archaeologist Alexander Keiller in 1929. It has been on public display since the local museum opened.
But in 2006 a claim was lodged by the Council of British Druid Orders to have Charlie and seven other human remains reburied.
With the public consultation on whether the remains should be reburied due to end this Saturday, BBC Inside Out West investigates both sides of the story tonight (Wednesday 28 January) at 7.30pm on BBC One in the West of England.
Rollo Maughfling, the archdruid of Stonehenge and Glastonbury, says: "Beyond all the other philosophical, scientific and religious arguments, in the end it comes down to something called common human decency."
Fellow pagan, Arthur Pendragon, adds: "These are human remains – you wouldn't dig your grandmother up from a churchyard."
But many archaeologists are unhappy that English Heritage and the National Trust are giving the druids' claim serious consideration.
Dr Josh Pollard, of Bristol University, says: "It's a very, very bad idea and it's entirely unnecessary, entirely unwarranted.
"I think it could set a very dangerous precedent, one in which we would find a situation where all prehistoric human remains held in museums, held in other collections across the United Kingdom, have to be reburied."
The full story features on BBC Inside Out West on Wednesday 28 January 2009 at 7.30pm on BBC One West. The programme will be available on BBC iPlayer for seven days.