19th century convict graves found near Portsmouth

Date:

Share post:

The bodies of four 19th century prisoners have been rescued off the coast of Portsmouth. A team of soldiers injured in Afghanistan, working on the foreshore of an area known as Burrow Island, responded to an emergency call when a member of the public alerted police to human remains exposed by severe weather conditions.

19th century convict graves found near Portsmouth
A presumed 19th century skeleton found at Rat Island [Credit: MOD]

Better known locally as Rat Island, the site has not been used by the armed forces for more than 40 years, despite its position near Her Majesty’s Naval Base and the mighty warships of HMS Victory and HMS Excellent. Experts from Wessex Archaeology hope to reveal the age, sex, stature and physical health of the figures, who are thought to have been held by the floating prisons moored in the harbour.

“It’s always exciting being part of a rapid reaction force,” said Richard Osgood, the senior archaeologist for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation behind the two-day excavation.

“We were only told about it three days before we needed to get to the site and establish exactly what had been found. It is important for the Organisation to undertake proper stewardship of the cultural heritage of the Ministry of Defence’s estate.

“It was great having recovering soldiers from Operation Nightingale [in Afghanistan] on the team. It’s rewarding that this programme to help soldiers wounded in Afghanistan recover and gain new skills is proving to be so successful for them and helpful to my team.”

The individuals are thought to have been French or American.

In a joint statement, Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant and Dr Kelly Domoney, of the Forensic Institute at Cranfield University, which will also analyse the remains, called the discoveries “a great opportunity”.

“Our small team of forensic archaeologists and anthropologists were privileged enough to provide an input into search and identification of human remains on site,” they said.

“Post-excavation work in our laboratories should contribute to shedding light on the living conditions of those individuals and the history of Rat Island.”

Author: Ben Miller | Source: Culture24 [March 19, 2014]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Cosmic ‘Death Star’ is destroying a planet

The Death Star of the movie Star Wars may be fictional, but planetary destruction is real. Astronomers announced...

New compounds could change our view of what planets are made of

A team of researchers led by Artem R. Oganov, a professor of theoretical crystallography in the Department of...

The intergalactic medium in the young universe

In its earliest years, the universe was so hot that electrons and protons could not bind together in...

UN-backed project to conserve Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal begins

An international team of archaeologists has begun a three-year survey, coordinated by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural...

The eruption that rocked the sun

On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock...

Gas chambers at Sobibor death camp in Poland located

Polish and Israeli Holocaust researchers say they have discovered the exact location of the building that housed gas...

Scottish wildcat could be extinct ‘within two years’

A scientist who has developed a genetic test to identify pure Scottish wildcats has warned that the species...

Surge in human brain size 1.8 million years ago linked to cooking

According to a new study, a surge in human brain size that occurred roughly 1.8 million years ago...