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African in England

What were remains of 1,000-year-old African skeleton doing in England?


A skeleton discovered by teenagers earlier this summer from the River Coln in England has been identified as an African woman who died around 1,000 years ago, between 896AD and 1025AD. Now the question remains, how did it get there?

Police officers were called to an area of the River Coln in Fairford on 7 th July after school pupils Robbie Cribley and Christian Thompson discovered a human skull, followed by the rest of woman’s remains. The entire skeleton has now been recovered, except for the small bones of the hands and feet which are likely to have disintegrated.

The investigation was handed over to a forensic anthropologist who was able to confirm that the remains belong to a woman who was from Sub-Sahara Africa and aged between 18 and 24 when she died. They are now continuing in their analysis in the hope of discovering how she died.

A thousand years ago the region of Fairford and the surrounding area was embroiled in conflict as England was beginning to take shape from Anglo-Saxon Wessex but faced the threat of constant invasion from Danish controlled Mercia and Viking raiders. England fell to the Vikings in 1013 and was ruled by the House of Denmark until 1042.

"It's intriguing to imagine how a Sub-Saharan African woman came to be found 1,000 years later in the River Coln," said chairman of Fairford History Society Geoff Hawkes.  "It really seems extraordinary. There is scattered evidence of, in early times, people travelling considerable distances but Africa to Fairford is a long journey."

It is hoped that further investigation will add more pieces to the puzzle.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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