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West Mersea: Ancient bones found on island to be analysed by experts

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 February 2013

Entrance to West Mersea Barrow

Entrance to West Mersea Barrow

THE mystery behind ancient remains found on the island of West Mersea could soon be solved.

Bones discovered in a Roman burial mound above the access road to the island have been sent off to be analysed by experts in the hope of finding out who it was.

The site was excavated in 1912 by Samuel Hazzledine Warren, who came across a central burial chamber containing a box with a Roman glass urn housing the cremated remains of human bones.

Although no record of the person involved has been found, it is believed they were of high status because of the nature and location of the burial.

The analysis has been organised by Mersea Island Museum where the bones were on display last summer and has been funded by donations from visitors.

The remains have been sent to Jacqueline McKinley, senior osteoarchaeologist at Wessex Archaeology, who has developed a procedure to extract DNA from cremated bone which should give an indication of the sex and age of the person involved and possibly even their ethnic origin.

Mersea Island Museum chairman Joanne Godfrey said: “This campaign has obviously caught the imagination of local people and of visitors from as far away as China and America.

“The museum committee would like to thank everyone who has supported us in this venture, and we hope that their generosity will soon be rewarded with some exciting news.”

The results of the tests are due to be ready in the next seven days.

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