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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Ancient skeleton to return home
Paviland Cave
The cave skeleton was found by clergyman William Buckland
A world famous archaeological find - a 26,000-year-old skeleton discovered in the Paviland cave on Gower - is set to return to Wales.

The skeleton, known as the Red Lady of Paviland, was discovered in the 1820s and taken to Oxford University.

The National Museum of Wales said a deal had been struck in principle with the university to borrow the remains.

It said the skeleton would be on display for a year as part of its centenary celebrations in 2007.

Last month, druid Chris Warwick spent a weekend in the cave where it was found to campaign for the return of the bones.

The Dead to Rights group, set up by Mr Warwick, said the removal of the skeleton was a "desecration" of a sacred site, and has previously called for the bones to be reburied in the cave.

Bones from Lady of Paviland
The remains have been on display at Oxford University

The skeleton was discovered by the Reverend William Buckland, also a palaeontologist, who removed the bones.

As the skeleton was stained with red ochre and elaborately buried with artefacts, Buckland misinterpreted the find as a young female prostitute from Roman times.

But the body turned out to be that of a young man, who was many thousands of years older, and had been buried with great dignity and ritual.

The skeleton is set to feature in a new archaeology gallery at the museum called Origins: In Search of Early Wales

The museum's director general Michael Houlihan said: "The national museum is delighted with this decision as it will provide an excellent focus for the opening of this exciting new gallery."

However, Mr Warwick still insists he wants the bones returned to the cave saying something is "amiss" with the cave since the bones and artefacts were removed.

"The bones... are Britain's oldest human remains"

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