South East Wales

Human bones up to hundreds of years old revealed on cliffs

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Media captionBurials dating from the 14th and 16th centuries have been found in the area

Human remains, thought to be hundreds of years old, have been uncovered by storms on a cliff in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Burials dating from the 14th and 16th centuries have been excavated by archaeologists at Cwm Nash near Wick since 1982.

The latest discovery, caused by cliff erosion in January, has revealed two human leg bones in the crumbling cliff.

Skull fragments, teeth and bones from a torso have also been uncovered.

Archaeologists believe the remains come from unofficial graveyard, which may have been formed to bury drowned sailors.

Richard Lewis from the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust said they may be the remains of people who could not afford to be buried in the nearby St Mary's churchyard.

"The cliff is very loose. It's sandy material," Mr Lewis said.

"It can be very difficult to excavate. We have to use ground anchors which are our archaeologists are attached to.

"It's quite like abseiling," he added.

A member of the public found the bones, and reported it to Barry Police Station who in turn told the archaeologists.

The archaeologists obtained an exhumation licence from the Ministry of Justice and began work to recover the remains.

They will now be studied in detail and dated.

The trust hopes to secure funding from conservation body Cadw for a full investigation of the site.

The winter erosion is thought to have affected two graves at Cwm Nash, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Vale of Glamorgan coast is rich in archaeological treasures, including prehistoric barrows, Iron Age hill forts and numerous shipwrecks.

A short distance away, the winter storms have also revealed the remains of a shipwreck at Whitmore Stairs near Southerndown.

Work is ongoing to identify the hull of a ship, which now stands proud in the sand.

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