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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 12:10 GMT
Druids request re-burial of bones
The child skeleton found at Windmill Hill, Avebury
The bones were unearthed by Alexander Keiller in the 1920s
Druids have called for a proper burial for Neolithic human remains, excavated from a site in Wiltshire in the 1920s.

The bones of a young child were dug up from a ditch in Windmill Hill, Avebury, by archaeologist Alexander Keiller.

The remains went on display at the village's museum, named after Keiller, who was heir to a Dundee-based marmalade business.

But the Council of British Druid Orders (COBDO) has made a formal request to English Heritage to re-inter the bones.

The partial skeleton, which is of a child aged about two or three, is laid in a sleeping position and is believed to date from about 3,600 BC.

'Wide implications'

Druid, Jamie George, said: "Many thousands of people in the UK are now taking an interest in our prehistoric past.

"[They] hold a lot of respect and revere for ancient places and would want to see the bones of what are after all our ancestors reinstated to where they came from," he said.

The bones are the responsibility of both English Heritage and the National Trust.

English Heritage said COBDO's "claim" would be assessed under Department for Culture Media and Sport's (DCMS) guidelines.

Chief scientist Sebastian Payne said: "Human remains have a unique status within museum collections, and should always be treated with respect.

These new guidelines are untested and their scope goes beyond the individual case we will be considering at Avebury
Sebastian Payne, English Heritage

"They make a substantial contribution to the public good, through research and teaching... offering opportunities to future generations to understand our past, as well as contributing to forensic and medical research.

"In many instances, they also have a personal, cultural, symbolic or spiritual significance to individuals and groups.

"We will be providing an opportunity for all parties concerned to express their views.

"These are sensitive issues with wide implications. To date, these new guidelines are untested and their scope goes beyond the individual case we will be considering at Avebury, with implications for museums across the country."




SEE ALSO
Druid campaign for sacred sites
23 Sep 06 |  South West Wales
Stone circle's future mapped out
09 Sep 05 |  Somerset

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