South Scotland

'Sailor's bones' found on Southwick coastal reserve

Bones Image copyright Scottish Wildlife Trust

Human bones thought to be the remains of a 19th century sailor have been discovered on a coastal reserve in south west Scotland.

They were found by project officer Chris Archbold at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Southwick site.

He was digging post holes with colleagues Alec Cook and Joanna Chmielewska when they made the find.

The police were called but later inspection showed the bones were more than 200 years old.

Wooden markers

Mr Archbold said: "I was naturally surprised and suspicious when we first found the bones so I called the police.

"Later inspection by a Glasgow museum showed that they were over 200 years old.

"It's likely that this poor man's body was washed ashore below the cliff, and because his religion wasn't known he was buried by the roadside rather than in a graveyard."

The fast tides and sand and mud banks of the Solway Firth have caught out many boats over the centuries.

As a result a number of burials, which may originally have been marked with simple wooden markers, have been discovered along the coast.

Southwick coast reserve covers a stretch of coastline between Sandyhills and Caulkerbush in Dumfries and Galloway, with wooded cliffs and extensive saltmarsh.

The reserve is known for its summer wildflowers, and in winter it is home to large numbers of greylag, pink-footed and barnacle geese.

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