Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Cave" woman reinterred

The remains of a women have been re-interred in the cave in which she was buried almost 1900 years ago.

Rob Preece from the Yorkshire Post reports:

"She was returned in a special ceremony to the mysterious limestone cave where she was discovered by two Yorkshire divers more than a decade ago.

Phillip Murphy, an academic at Leeds University, and his friend Andrew Goddard found the woman's skull by chance during a diving mission at the cave, dubbed the Wolf Den, in 1997.

Carbon dating tests confirmed that the remains dated back to Roman times, and further visits to the site unearthed the bones of some medieval wild dogs and the first set of prehistoric cave footprints ever seen in Britain.

A forensic expert at Sheffield University, Dr Stephanie Davy-Jow, has even managed to draw a reconstruction of how the woman's face would have looked, using the latest 3D computer modelling techniques.

Mr Murphy, a technician in Leeds's school of earth and environment, said: "We know that our Roman lady wasn't thrown down the cave shaft to her death because there were no injuries on the skull consistent with that.

"The bones were definitely placed in the cave, but they weren't found in an articulated skeleton, so they may have been placed there after her body had decomposed elsewhere, which was common in those times."

While returning the skull to the cave, Mr Murphy and Mr Goddard found yet more bones – the femur of a large man, who would have been more than 6ft tall, a large Roman Age horse and some Neolithic cattle.

The cave entrance has now been resealed, and its location kept secret, so the important archaeological site will not be disturbed by the public."

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