After missing for a long forty years, an ancient skull has finally been rediscovered. And it isn’t just any skull; it’s the oldest complete skull that has ever been found in the United Kingdom. In fact, it is believed that it could be more than 14,000 years old.
The female skull was discovered in a Staffordshire gravel pit in 1943 and was given the name of “Greta”. The skull, which at first was believed to have been approximately 10,000 years old, had been on display at a museum in the town of Burton upon Trent. However, when the museum closed down around 40 years ago, the skull was lost.
After being lost for so many years, it was finally recovered again by archaeology enthusiast David Adkins who found the skull locked away at the Potteries Museum in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. As a matter of fact, it was “hidden away in an Asprey [the royal jewelers] box for over 40 years,” he claimed. It was only after it was rediscovered that they realized Greta’s skull is probably older than 10,000 years.
“I went back to the paper records and found buried in the archive an account of a mammoth tooth that came from the same location after Greta was found,” explained David, who is a community center manager from Burton. Since the mammoth became extinct more than 14,000 years ago in Britain, that would suggest that Greta’s skull would be around that same age. David continued on by saying, “If the tooth was one of the grave goods in Greta’s grave, she could be over 14,000 years old, pushing her back in time to the Palaeolithic or Early Stone Age.” For comparison, Greta could be nearly three times older than Stonehenge.
Another interesting find was that two small “non-human” bones were discovered with Greta’s skull. But according to David, it’s not that big of a deal, “Animal bones are common finds in Mesolithic graves. We don’t know which animal yet – I think red deer, although it could be (an) auroch or mammoth.”
Once Greta’s skull is moved to Durham University, additional tests will be conducted in order to find out where she once lived. Pictures of the skull can be seen here.