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Digging up the past

PUBLISHED: 17:26 13 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

A GIFTED schoolgirl has come face to face with a 1200-year-old ancestor.

Nina Horrocks-Hopayian , 13, a pupil at Farlingaye High School, took part in the excavation and analysis of over 200 human skeletal remains found at an ancient Christian burial site in Norfolk.

A GIFTED schoolgirl has come face to face with a 1200-year-old ancestor.

Nina Horrocks-Hopayian , 13, a pupil at Farlingaye High School, took part in the excavation and analysis of over 200 human skeletal remains found at an ancient Christian burial site in Norfolk.

Nina, learnt about how these people lived and worked as part of an outreach team event run by the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY), based at the University of Warwick.

Outreach provides an opportunity for the youngsters to become high achievers by providing challenging goals and opportunities.

Nina said she wanted to go on the course after becoming an avid fan of Channel 4's Time Team. Nina said: "I received the letter about it and just had to go".

Nina, who lives in Aldeburgh, learnt skills in excavation, archaeology and anthropology as well as basic anatomy to determine the age, sex and even eating habits of the ancestral skeletons.

Eventually she will be able to analyse to what extent a person can be reconstructed using only their remains and what, as a result, can be deduced about there lifestyles.

She will study the skeletons of those who died in battle and also those who died from disease and how their bodies were affected by it.

Professor Deborah Eyre, director of the programme, said: "This outreach offers the gifted a real opportunity to learn.

"Following previous successes the academy has developed a comprehensive range of outreach events to meet the needs of the country's brightest students."

Her teachers recommended Nina to the NAGTY. She then had to put together a portfolio of her achievements.

Although she plays a number of musical instruments her main interest is in drama and one day she is hoping to become an actress on the silver screen.

Nina has been selected alongside 14 other students varying in age form 12 to 15 years old who are all in the top five per cent of gifted and talented pupils in the UK.

Her mother, Gillian said: "Myself and my family are all very proud of her, she has achieved all of this on her own."

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