Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:48 UK

Ancient skulls returned to Egypt

Matthew McClelland
Matthew McClelland unearthed the skulls in his garden

Two ancient Egyptian skulls which were found buried in a back garden in Manchester have been returned to Egypt.

Matthew McClelland, 28, unearthed the skulls while digging at his home on Ivygreen Road, Chorlton, last June.

The skulls were confiscated by police and analysed by forensic experts at Oxford University, and have now been found to be genuine Egyptian artefacts.

Greater Manchester Police said the skulls, which are about 2,000 years old, had now been returned to Egypt.

An Egyptian Embassy spokesman said: "These skulls were taken back to Cairo a few weeks ago.

"They have been examined by the Head of the Antiquities Council and will need some restoration work.

It's a lovely turn of events that the long lost skulls have gone back home to Egypt
Dr Tom Higham

"Once that is done they will go on show in Egypt."

The skulls were buried at the house two years ago, by a doctor who bought them as a teenager while on holiday in Sinai but when his wife said she did not like them in the house, he decided to bury them.

Dr Tom Higham, deputy director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, who examined the skulls, said they were extremely well preserved.

He said: "They looked very good, but it's often difficult to tell as sometimes they do not have enough collagen to date them.

"The important point was that they were extremely old, and had no forensic significance - they were not from people who had died recently.

"It's a lovely turn of events that the long lost skulls have gone back home to Egypt."

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Toronto Star Online Ancient skulls buried in U.K. back in Egypt - 32 mins ago
Leigh Today Ancient skulls returned to Egypt - 12 hrs ago
Telegraph Egyptian skulls discovered in Manchester garden - 13 hrs ago
Washington PostBritain: skulls found in yard sent home to Egypt - 14 hrs ago Ancient Egyptian Skulls Dug Out of English Garden - 16 hrs ago
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