Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Druids in row over boy's skeleton

The skeleton, known as "Charlie", was discovered in 1929

A decision is due to be made over the future of a skeleton found near an ancient stone circle 80 years ago.

Druids have called for the remains of the three-year-old child to be reburied at Avebury, Wiltshire, out of respect.

But archaeologists insist the skeleton - currently on display at the Alexander Keiller museum - should be kept available for research and testing.

Public consultation on whether the remains should reburied ends this weekend.

English Heritage and the National Trust are due to make the decision on whether to rebury the skeleton later this year.

Human remains

The skeleton, known as "Charlie", was discovered at the nearby Neolithic site of Windmill Hill by archaeologist Alexander Keiller in 1929.

It has been on display at the local museum since it opened.

But in 2006 a claim was lodged by the Council of British Druid Orders to have Charlie and seven other human remains reburied.

Rollo Maughfling, the archdruid of Stonehenge and Glastonbury, said: "Beyond all the other philosophical, scientific and religious arguments, in the end it comes down to something called common human decency."

It's a very, very bad idea and it's entirely unnecessary, entirely unwarranted
Dr Josh Pollard, Bristol University

Fellow pagan Arthur Pendragon added: "These are human remains - you wouldn't dig your grandmother up from a churchyard."

But many archaeologists are unhappy that English Heritage and the National Trust are giving the druids' claim serious consideration.

Dr Josh Pollard, of Bristol University, said: "It's a very, very bad idea and it's entirely unnecessary, entirely unwarranted.

"I think it could set a very dangerous precedent, one in which we would find a situation where all prehistoric human remains held in museums, held in other collections across the United Kingdom, have to be reburied."

The full story features on Inside Out West on BBC One in the West region at 1930 GMT on Wednesday.

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